20 May 2007

Hear me roar

Fortune has an article in it's current issue describing the entrance of Gen-Y into the post-collegiate working world. Apparently we are the most demanding, least loyal, most connected, least apologetic generation to date. That sounds about right.

I am a prototypical Gen-Yer. I left my cushy banking job for exactly the reasons this article outlines: I did not have a sense my career was moving anywhere. I did not feel like I was doing any meaningful work. I had no real responsibility. In fact, I had more responsibility running the job fair for my university than I had at work; why would anyone stay at a job that feels like a demotion?

We did have international training exercises, which were a good idea: we networked with other young hires at the bank and got a sense of the global business. Our mentors on these exercises were upper management (again, good idea). But there was no follow-through. We would perform well, get fantastic feedback, and go back to 60 hour weeks pushing F10 and occasionally F12.

I was willing and ready to work 80 hour weeks and solve real problems. Hard work and little work-life balance were fine with me if I had a sense I was invested in my job, if I felt like I was needed and making a contribution. I wrote a strategy paper on how to make our entire North American derivatives business client focused and the comment I received back was: it's 200 words too long. In true Gen-Y style I cut 203 words from one section and replaced them with "see Appendix C". Then I quit.

If I'm going to "do my time" I'm at least going to do it somewhere I can make a difference. I am training to become a physician and during my internship and residency, my "slog", I will at least be making a contribution to the health of the people I meet. It may be a smaller scale than global finance, but it's also a more meaningful one.

I expect great things of myself. Call it hubris, but I find it insulting if you expect less of me than I do. I do not accept that I should work at less than my full capacity because I am young. Age should not determine responsibility; ability should. I am superwoman.

And apparently there are 79.8 million of me.

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