It seems there’s no better way to define a generation gap than by sitting in a Starbucks. After ordering a grande non-fat cinnamon dulce latte (no whipped cream please) I observe the kind, elderly gentleman behind me shyly walk to the counter and order a regular coffee. The barista exuberantly asks if he would like the pike’s place, veranda, or French roast blend. Clearly confused, she explains they are a light, medium, or dark roast. He better take the dark.
In times of social media, iPods, and mochaccinos, the gap between our parent’s generation and our own is more of a vast, ever-expanding black hole. It’s been said that we are an entitled bunch of kids, asking for a whole lot and not giving much in return. We go to college and study abroad, backpack through Europe, dream of landing that dream job while working for free at numerous internships, expecting our parents to foot the bill. But I think we’re getting a bad rep.
When our parents and grandparents went to school, they didn’t have to pay for student loans for years to come after graduating. When our parents and grandparents got jobs, working 9-5 was the norm. Stereotypically, you were expected to provide for your family, put food on the table, and raise your kids to do the same.
Well, things have changed. Products of our generation have easy access to school which exposes us to people of all walks of life and experiences we wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s never been easier to spend a semester in Peru, take a cooking class in Italy, or intern in China. We are expected to work hard, many times for free, in preparation for the “real” job world, where we’ll probably end up working for pennies, anyway. But we do it. I think we actually like it. We’re driven, motivated, hard-working people who take these opportunities that our parents might not have had.
And when we do finally graduate and enter the ominous real world, many may think we are greeted with jobs sitting in cubicles, clocking in and out every day at the same time, where we go to sleep, wake up, repeat. But the truth of the matter is we don’t. As our generation finishes school then goes out to seek that elusive dream job, we’re finding it actually does exist. And it’s much more common than you’d think.
I found myself in the same position as many others, graduated with a degree and no idea what to do with it. I studied abroad, toured Europe, lived in Asia, backpacked, came home and was reprimanded for living in a fairy tale world, told to wise up and get some legitimate experience on my resume. I didn’t want a behind-the-desk kind of job, so I applied to a company that has an office full of treehouses, ziplines, s’mores, and giant tricycles. And I got it.
When I go to work every day, I literally have no idea what will happen in the next 12 hours. I could be on the phone with mainstream radio stations negotiating advertising prices, booking flights to Hawaii, handling customer service calls, or getting caught up in the middle of an incredibly intense foosball game.
Our parents would tell us that isn’t work. And in many ways, it’s not. Because when you genuinely enjoy what you do, it’s so much more than that.