We all appreciated your relentless stimulation and the really important points you drove home to our group.
Hon. George P. Shultz, Secretary of State (1982-1989), United States of America

Second Wave Millennials: How Do Gen Zers Think About Their Own Work and Career Path?

Gen Zers typically expect their career paths will be erratic and eclectic. For the most part, they are right. Gen Zers will be much less likely than those of prior generations to make long-term uninterrupted careers with one organization. They are also less likely to be exclusively employed by one organization at any given time. And they are less likely to work full-time and on-site. The new default presumption about career success is “one step at a time.”

Gen Zers very likely have a clear vision for their ideal intermediate or longer-term career, but it is very likely a vision centered on location, relationships, and lifestyle:

  • Where do they really want to live?
  • Who do they really want to spend their time with?
  • What kind of schedule would they like?
  • And what kind of immediate surroundings do they hope will define their regular workspace environment?

Yes they want to learn valuable skills. Yes they want to build relationships with decision-makers who can help them. Yes they want to collect proof of their ability to add value. Yes they want to make money. Lots of money! (Gen Zers in huge percentages say they want to be very rich – surprise, surprise – and no matter how dim their view of the overall future economy, by huge percentages most Gen Zers expect to be very rich someday.)

Those Gen Zers who are more strategic in their career thinking will be looking at each employment opportunity along the way as either a “detour” away from their ideal vision or a “step” in the right direction. The most strategic among Gen Zers will likely have a very specific time frame in mind for each job. (One year? Two? Three? Five at the outside.) And they very likely have a very specific set of credentials or resources they hope to capture and take away from the experience. (Certification? Experience? Contacts? Results? Money?) Of course, there will be Gen Zers who find a way to make a long-term career with just one employer — but they will be rare — and it’s almost impossible to predict in advance. It is not, however, impossible to influence them along the way. The long-termers will become long-termers by deciding over and over again not to leave. You can help the best ones keep deciding not to leave.

This content originally appeared in our Just Thinking Newsletter.