Being a proud member of generation Y, I loved what the three past decades had taught me. First and foremost, being a child during 80s was fantastic. Watching so many cool cartoons on TV, accidentally recording your voice on Michael Jackson tapes, getting scared with Gremlins, E.T., or A Nightmare on Elm Street highlight beauty of those times. Then came the colorful 90s! It was a perfect time to be a teenager: Walking around with your Walkman, watching The Fresh Prince of Bel Air every day, and thankfully the previous decade’s horrible fashion was gone. Yes, there was AIDS, Lady Diana’s death, the collapse of both USSR and the Berlin Wall. But growing up, we didn’t really go through a global trauma like Generation Z did, not even close.
How about I give you a chance to see the world from Generation Z perspective? Let’s say you were born in 1995. When you were six years old, you saw the biggest terrorist attack in the human history on TV, live. While you were playing with play doughs, you saw two planes hit World Trade Center. You couldn’t understand what was going on quite yet, as you were very little. But your parents seemed upset, like, all the time. Everyone was talking about this horrible event, scared. A few months later the words “bombing,” “war,” “Iraq,” echoed wherever you turned. At school, at home, the annoyingly sad tension was hanging in the air like a fog.
Then, the day you turned 13, your father apologized and said he couldn’t afford to buy you a birthday gift. That was your first time hearing the word “Bankruptcy.” Family trips that you were excited about were all canceled. You could hear your mom secretly crying at night in the bathroom. To make matters worse, your best friends’ family had to move since they couldn’t afford to live in that city anymore.
Just two years later, you saw Arab spring on the news. With the rebellious teenage blood running through your veins, you were supportive of this movement. Freedom and democracy for everyone! But you had no idea about ISIS until a few years later, when you were a freshman in college. Their brutal attacks were all over the news, causing the 9/11 trauma to resurface. You heard a night club shooting in Turkey, an airport shooting in Belgium, multiple attacks in France and more.
Year 2019. Congratulations! You got your master’s degree! You were so ready to go in the business life and kill it. Lucky you, you got a job offer quickly and with your first paycheck you bought a big screen TV. You entered the new year with high hopes and enthusiasm. 2020 was going to be your year!
Well, that did not happen. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, you were laid off. You had to move back in with your parents. Now, there are no new jobs out there and if there are, with record 40+ million people unemployed, job market is really competitive. You have rent to pay and your monthly loan payment is coming up. So, what now?
This COVID-19 pandemic might be the final blow for Generation Z. In workforce, this generation will be now even more extremely cautious and anxious than ever. Although their self-reliant and realistic nature help them do their best in survival mode, the constant ups and downs, turns and twists are blurring their vision for their future.
Being the most educated and one and only tech native generation so far, at work, they will have higher expectations than previous generations, such as additional perks, bonuses and development opportunities. Because of the unknown, and clearly visible competition out there, they feel the urge to constantly build skills for their resume. Knowing the fact that what they have today can be gone tomorrow, this generation will face commitment issues. They might be afraid to build rooted relationships with their companies or colleagues so as not to suffer a separation later.
Let’s look on the bright side now. Generation Z has a good tendency to save money, as well. With the infinite online resources out there, they constantly learn about so many different things which allows them to compare and contrast products, companies, communicate with people and do networking, and learn about strategies online. With the commitment problem, the eagerness to grow and earn more, Generation Z might create many great young entrepreneurs. However, starting a business means getting out of your comfort zone. In order to do that, they will have to learn how to tackle their fears about their future first.