Off the grid — an interpretation of my life that could’ve been

A life sans capitalism

All around, people are giving in to the Pit: the notion that working and participating in capitalist society will bring you joy and fulfillment. An endless downward cycle that leads human creatures into meaningless lives where their psyche will serve as tasteless grub for said Pit — or capitalistic societal structure — whatever you want to call it.

But I’m better than all those other people. I saw through the Pit, and said HELLLLLL no! I was going to live my dream life, even if it meant cutting myself off from society, since there is no way to function in it without giving in to the Pit. So I left and began my better life.

No need for an undergraduate degree, no more overpriced productivity-inducing coffee, no more jobs, no more expectations to shower every day or to wear pants all the time… In this oasis away from the Pit you call society, I can live out my days without the tight shackles of today’s normal.

You know what I mean, right? Life is just time you have on Earth, and for some reason, we all think it needs to be filled with what we perceive as ‘meaningful careers that will be ‘impactful’ in some way’. Why can’t we just forget about government, money, material goods, and why can’t we just live?

I know it’s more complicated than that, but hear me out.

My entire life I’ve seen my parents accomplish great things, and now I live with my — amazing — but very put-together sister, who at 22 has a full time job and an in-home office. I’ve felt the need to do something big with my life, or comparable at least. But the truth is I discovered my real passion, the true love of my life, one sunny day when I was eight years old.

I was running through a field in Kathmandu, Nepal, when all of a sudden we stumbled upon some baby goats. These tiny little baby goats would run around my sister and I, jumping into our arms… That was the best day of my life. But now, I sit sulking in my apartment thinking of the good ol’ days.

Why can’t I live in a small, run-down home with a couple of goats for my cheese addiction, a cow and some chickens, and a beautiful garden? Why aren’t these the skills I am teaching myself if these are my aspirations? Maybe because my mind has been skewed by what we are all expected to become — workers that feed the PIT!

Better yet, why can’t I camp? I’ll live off the land! I don’t care that it’s -30 C  for seven months out of the year in Quebec, I can do it! I just have to learn how to build a shelter and make a fire out of nothing, maybe make some clothes out of raw materials… easy-peasy! And of course, you can always go warm up in a gas station… it counts, right?

Maybe I’m just a crazy burnout who wants to drop out of life and responsibilities — that is a very likely possibility.

Or maybe we all feed into a meaningless Pit of lies — one that makes us believe that if we just work hard, make money, and save money, our lives will work out. We will buy homes one day, and settle down with our soulmates. But in reality, these things are rare. Most people — despite having done everything right — still don’t have the luxury to settle down for a happy, fulfilling life.

Most people face a lifetime of capitalism-centric society without reaping any of the so-called benefits — working to climb the ladder until you reach your deathbed, on the off chance you may leave some cash for your descendants. Maybe they will have an easier go at it… or maybe not.

Obviously, not everyone has the ability to drop everything or the luxury of not having to think about the affordability of living off the grid. But sometimes, I find it eerily comforting to think about how meaningless it all is — money, power, government, purpose… makes me feel like it’s okay that I don’t know what to do with my life.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


It’s time to reject unpaid internships once and for all

Unpaid internships exacerbate the rampant inequalities in our labour market

National Football League (NFL) reporter Jane Slater sparked the ire of young journalists all over the Twittersphere earlier this month when she promoted an unpaid internship position. After receiving an avalanche of responses on how unpaid internships are unethical, unsustainable, and exploitative, she responded that this was simply the norm and that, “There is a reason not everyone makes it in this business.” She continued, “I don’t have time for those of you who don’t understand grind.”

While Slater’s unwavering commitment to the practice of unpaid internships is baffling, she wasn’t exactly incorrect that they are omnipresent in media and journalism fields.

Although no career field could ever be a true meritocracy, unpaid internships are pushing us further and further from that ideal. This is because to even be able to work unpaid, you must start out with a base level of economic security and privilege.

A student who needs to pay their own way through university or support dependents would simply not be able to allocate their time and labour to a company not willing to pay them. This leads to a culture where the only people applying for these entry-level internships are those who already have a financial leg up.

Additionally, working for free can put interns in precarious situations. Despite the fact that, as of 2019, all interns in federally regulated industries, including unpaid student positions, received standard worker protections, there are still many interns across Canada left without proper protections. This ruling did not account for federal civil service jobs or positions under provincial jurisdiction. Thus, the burden of adequately caring for their unpaid interns is placed on the employer, who often has little incentive to provide anything above the bare minimum needed to not get sued.

Not to mention, the mere concept of unpaid internships perpetuates the notion that one’s labour can be removed from their pay. The more a young person gets used to not being paid for their work, the less they’ll value their labour as they move into positions later down the line, which may lead to them not properly advocating for themselves.

Full disclosure, I have worked an unpaid internship. I am privileged enough that working for pay part-time over a summer and interning the rest was enough to sustain me. Looking back, I hate myself for offering my labour to such an unethical system, but at the same time, it’s what I was told was common, if not necessary, to have a career in media.

Yet, I now believe that no internship, no matter the prestige, would be worth selling out my labour for free. I can no longer in good conscience prop up any company not willing to pay their workers a living wage, because when privileged people feed into these systems, they’ll continue functioning regardless of backlash. There are so many resources such as Concordia’s Housing and Job Resource Centre (HOJO) or Career and Planning Services (CAPS), that make it easier to find paid opportunities and avoid falling victim to the unpaid internship scam.

If we all as students reject the concept of unpaid internships wholeheartedly, the industry will eventually be forced to follow suit.


 Graphic by Alex Hutchins


Thierry Henry: The living legend

Henry brings his talent on and off the field

Filling up trophy cabinets was common for former football player Thierry Henry. Unfortunately, Henry’s time as a head coach of CF Montreal did not reflect his career as a player, and had to come to a premature ending.

The all-time top goal scorer for France with 51 goals, he started his professional career in Monaco, where he spent five years. There, he won his first major trophy during the 1996–97 season, lifting up the Ligue 1 trophy and crowning Monaco as French champions.

Henry’s talents were not left unnoticed, and after an uneventful year playing for Italian giants Juventus for the 1998–99 season, he moved to London, where his career with Arsenal would engrave him forever in not only the history of the club, but also the sport.

While playing for Arsenal, Henry changed his play style and became a central offensive player rather than playing out on the left wing. This made a huge difference in Henry’s goal scoring record, where his mentality of quickly controlling the ball and shooting on net became evident and ruthless.

Henry played for Arsenal from 1999–2007, and saw his club lift the Premier League Cup twice. During the 2003–04 season, the London-based club won the Premier League without losing a single game, earning them the title of ‘The Invincibles’ and lifting up a golden trophy; the only team in the history of the Premier League to ever do so.

Henry’s time with Arsenal came to an end in 2007, as he joined famous Catalonian club F.C. Barcelona — the club he had lost to in the Champions League Final in 2006.

Henry’s time with Barcelona surpassed expectations. The striker became champion of Spain in his second year there, and created history once again as Barcelona won six trophies in a calendar year: the Supercopa de Espana, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, La Liga, La Copa del Rey, and the most famous Champions League. Henry’s influential career with Barcelona came to an end in 2010, when he shockingly joined Major League Soccer (MLS) team the New York Red Bulls.

His player career in the MLS was different from his European past. Henry became a role model for all his teammates, and his influence was greater than ever, a source of discipline, confidence and rigour. Winning only the Supporters’ Shield with the Red Bulls in the 2012–13 season for having the best record in the league, Henry retired in 2014 and meddled in a managerial career soon after.

He became the head coach of CF Montreal in 2019, but unfortunately left his coaching duties this February 2021. During his time in Montreal, the Frenchman continued to elevate the standards of his team, leading CF Montreal to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but was eliminated by the New England Revolution. Henry’s record for the Montreal-based club is nine wins, 16 losses and four draws for both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons. Although these statistics may not seem impressive, Henry’s goal was to build the team from the ground up; a plan which demands time and effort.

Henry had to leave his position last month for family reasons, but his coaching career is nowhere near finished. The Frenchman’s departure has made clubs such as AFC Bournemouth from the England second tier division keen on signing the legend into their coaching spot, whenever he’s ready.


Graphic by Sarah Alouani

Small Steps: Don’t let imposter syndrome get you down

Once, sitting at a Cook Out (a southern fast food joint, sadly missing in the “great” white north) at around midnight with my friend Hannah, the topic of nepotism came up. I bemoaned to her about my fears of never truly knowing my worth in the creative industry because I happened to be following in my parents’ footsteps. My mom is a broadcast media professor and my dad sports a 40-year radio career. And now, I am an aspiring media professional who does radio on the side. It all just felt a bit too close to home. How could I ever know if I’m actually good at what I do if I’m always being told where to apply and who to contact?

Hannah, never one to parse words, looked straight at me and asked “What does it matter?” She goes to a much more “WASP-y,” predominantly well-to-do school than Concordia, where many of her peers wear their generational wealth on their sleeve, so she was able to see things a little more clearly than I.

“Hey, if John Rockefeller Vanderbilt the fifteenth is using his nepotism, why shouldn’t you? At least you’re a woman,” she said.

She was right. I was using my fear of what little nepotism I am capable of gleaning as a smokescreen for what was really going on —  imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is basically when you feel like you’re a fraud despite ample qualification. It’s the gut feeling that you don’t deserve any of your accomplishments, despite having worked for them. It’s the difference between me and John Rockefeller Vanderbilt the fifteenth— he believes he is good enough for the position, regardless of circumstances, while I do not.

Imposter syndrome is not solely personal, though. It’s intrinsically tied to how society values the labour of certain people over others. If you’re conditioned throughout your life to believe certain fields aren’t meant for you, or you never see people who look like you reflected in your desired job, it only makes sense that you’d still feel like you don’t belong even after you’ve beaten the odds. For that reason, women are much more likely to experience imposter syndrome than men, and women of colour tend to experience it the most.

It’s extremely hard to break the cycle of negative thinking when it’s so ingrained in our culture. And exclusionary and toxic work environments only exacerbate these issues. It would be easy to say that women and POC should just put on a smile and “know their worth.” But that sort of #GirlBoss logic doesn’t fix the reasons why so many are plagued by feelings of inadequacy.

To actually stop imposter syndrome, we’ll need to address the structural reasons why people feel inadequate in their careers in the first place. The vast majority of workplaces were never constructed with women or marginalized people in mind, so of course those trying to navigate these structures will feel alienated. Additionally, a capitalist structure which views professional failure as akin to death doesn’t really help us put our careers into perspective.

It helps to know that imposter syndrome isn’t just you, because most of us all feel unworthy every once in a while. Keeping that in mind may just help you navigate our capitalist hellscape a little bit easier.


Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam


Professional persona vs. public persona

Why we must keep a distance between our private and professional side

Recently, Twitter struck again with a post that resulted in the end of someone’s career. In August, a woman tweeted: “Everyone shut the f*ck up I got accepted for a NASA internship.” A man named Homer Hickam tweeted back: “Language.” To which the woman responded: “Suck my dick and balls I’m working for NASA.”

Hickam replied with a simple statement revealing his identity as a member of the National Space Council that oversees NASA. As quickly as it started, the woman’s heated tweet got her fired from her intern position, according to Buzzfeed News.

Inevitably, the entire exchange as well as its outcome caused a fair amount of backlash online. Some people defended Hickam’s choice to end her internship before it even began. Others, however, went so far as to attack Hickam’s “white-man privilege” for firing a woman because she didn’t mind her language.

Eventually, it was discovered that Hickam was not involved in the decision to fire the woman. Hickam explained that he only replied to her tweet as a warning because he feared she would lose her job if NASA officials saw the tweet.

This brings us to the topic of the day: Should there really be a difference between a person’s personal and professional persona? In my opinion, there should be. Biases and opinions tend to scare some people off and affect how they view others. In this case, excessive swearing smeared a woman’s professional persona. Had she made sure to keep her personal persona, one where she is the master of her own words, different from her professional one, she would not have suffered such consequences.

Ideally, nothing should faze an employer’s view of their employees besides how they deliver the work asked of them. If someone’s competence is not affected by their opinions or, in this case, excessive swearing, why should they be punished for it? However, oftentimes, that is not the case. Too often, employers cannot get past certain values or habits their employees have.

Social media is a dangerous place to venture, and while people may think the World Wide Web is synonymous with freedom of expression, it definitely isn’t. Once a person chooses to use your public persona against you, there is little you can do about it. There is little you can do about how certain people will choose to hurt you and get away with it.

In a perfect world devoid of limitations and social norms, people would not worry about such things. They would be trusted in the professional world despite opinions they have or their way of life. Unfortunately, in our world, people are held accountable for what they choose to show to the public, and not without reason.

Human beings are biased creatures, whether we like to admit it or not. Once we see a person act a certain way, we cannot control the need to put that person into a box or stereotype. At times, that can get harmful. For example, an Islamophobic employer will inevitably let his negative bias affect his choice in hiring a Muslim individual, regardless of the person’s professional abilities.

In my opinion, this is rigid and counterproductive. Excessive stereotypes derail people from possible life opportunities, especially on a professional level. For instance, when one hears a person excessively swearing, one might think they are not professional and borderline disrespectful. Nonetheless, this is the reality of our ever-evolving world, and while some constraints might seem unfair, others––such as keeping certain things private––are deemed necessary.

In the case of the woman on Twitter, she not only swore excessively, but directed her language toward an important person in her field of work—a person she obviously did not know to be of such importance until he corrected her. Hence why it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to such stories. Ideally, one should not fear their private lives affecting their professional life, because  the profession should only be defined with the work you put into it.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin

Student Life

Paving a career path

Niloofar Moradi speaks about fueling her ambition with passion

“For all aspiring engineers, find and follow your passion, work hard, work smart, get involved, feed your soul through volunteer work, and remember to carry the torch for the next generation,” said Noolifar Moradi, a Concordia University alumna and recipient of the 2018 Concordia Young Alumni Award.

The award is given to an alumni who has graduated in the last 15 years and continues to be involved in the Concordia community.

Moradi has always been an exemplary student. In 2010, she completed her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at Concordia, and in 2015, gained a master’s in applied sciences at the École de technologie supérieure.

Her passion and commitment to aerospace engineering and her contribution to its community also led Moradi to win the Elsie MacGill Engineering Award for 2018.

Each year, eight women across Canada are nominated by the Northern Lights Aero Foundation (NLAF) for the Elsie MacGill Awards. Established in 2009, the NLAF honours outstanding women who have made a significant contribution to their field and continue to lay the groundwork and encourage other women to excel in the industry. Nominees are chosen based on their determination, perseverance, enthusiasm and personal accomplishments in aviation or aerospace engineering, as well as their ability to inspire others.

Moradi started as a turbo dynamics engineer and then shifted her focus to turbine mechanical design. She began her professional career at Rolls Royce Energy, but was still drawn to aerospace and aviation. When Moradi was offered a position at Pratt & Whitney, a top player in the aircraft engine manufacturing world, she accepted the challenge. Ever since then, Moradi has devoted her career to turbine aerodynamics and turbine design.

Despite having a lot on her plate at work, Moradi always makes time to give back to the university. “I do simple volunteering activities at Concordia,” she said.

When the university hosts its annual open house, it calls upon a group of alumni to spend a day talking to possible future students about what it’s like to study at Concordia. Moradi hasn’t missed the event for the past five or six years.“I find it so rewarding to be able to explain to people about my journey,” she said.

Moradi also attends numerous seminars and speaks to first-year students about the current job market, her experiences and what she’s taken away from that. “What I love about Concordia is that they made such a huge effort in preparing the students for the real world, by giving them talks, courses on software packages, it’s basically hands-on engineering,” she said. Moradi hopes to inspire students and push them to set goals for themselves.

“I do not see myself doing anything else on a daily basis,” says Moradi. “I truly believe that if you do what you’re passionate about, it won’t feel like a job, it will feel like following your passion.”

Feature image courtesy of Concordia University.


The millennial pursuit of monetizing passion

One student’s realization that passions are valuable whether they bring you success or not

An interest in yoga has transformed into the pursuit of becoming a fitness model. A knack for style has evolved into the goal of owning your own fashion label. A passion for music has morphed into a dream of becoming a world-renowned rapper.

Among other defining characteristics, millennials’ willingness to pursue their dreams sets them apart from generations past. Unlike our parents, who weren’t necessarily encouraged to envision futures beyond desk jobs, millennials live in a world constantly inspiring us to nurture our passions and interests.

To be in our 20s today is to live in a time of endless possibility—a time when social media can become your ticket to superstardom, like it did for Justin Bieber; a time when your own voice can propel you past homelessness and poverty, as was the case for The Weeknd.

Despite a generation of baby boomers who tend to label us as lazy and entitled, our reverence for creativity makes us one of the most ambitious generations this world has ever seen. We believe there is nothing hard work and perseverance can’t achieve, and we are unapologetic and fearless in the pursuit of our dreams.

As a millennial myself, I am an avid believer in unearthing individual talents and interests. Art, dance, cuisine, writing—whatever it is, I encourage you to discover the joy and fulfillment that comes with asserting yourself as a unique individual.

I am, however, troubled by the sense that a materialistic mentality has pervaded my generation. What started as a goal in the name of passion has been overtaken by a thirst for money and fame. Our passions matter as much as the attention they receive. This is particularly evident through our changed relationship with social media, where our posts and popularity are as valuable as the likes and followers they generate. The song you post to YouTube isn’t impressive because you made the beat yourself—it’s impressive because of its view count. It doesn’t matter that I took the time to write this article—what matters is that you took the time to share it on Facebook.

In the pursuit of careers that will satisfy our intrinsic interests, millennials disregard passion for passion’s sake—doing something simply because you love it, with no ulterior motive like making money or getting noticed. Our sense of purpose becomes tethered to popularity, and we wait for the day when we will finally be recognized as the superstars we really are. In the meantime, we disregard things that make “everyday” jobs appealing, and overlook those who work nine-to-five jobs instead of pursuing a career they’re passionate about. Stable hours, benefits and a reliable salary aren’t good enough for the go-getting millennial, who scoffs at the idea of working in a cubicle.

But just because someone else hasn’t made a career out of their passion doesn’t mean they’re living a mediocre existence. They have worked just as hard to get to where they are. And they too are individuals with talents, interests and passions. Conversely, just because someone hustles in a field that they love, doesn’t mean they’re ever going to find success.

For those of you who think I’m saying these things because I don’t have any dreams, you are wrong. I hold a desire in my heart which many have called a pipe dream. I no longer measure the value of my passion based on whether or not I am able to turn it into a career because I made the disheartening discovery that, sometimes, hard work doesn’t actually pay off.

Indeed, contrary to what we’ve been told our whole lives, working towards your passion is often not enough. The difference between being good at something and getting paid to do it depends on a variety of factors beyond your control, like connections, timing and luck.

In a world that constantly measures you in likes, followers and cash, I urge you to remember that the value of your passion goes far beyond a dollar sign. You do not need recognition from others in order to enjoy or be good at something. Whether you are able to turn your passion into a career is irrelevant. The beauty of your passion is that it is yours, and that is valuable beyond measure.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Student Life

Graduates entitled to be entitled

Photo by Nav Pall

A few weeks after being hired as a supervisor at a summer camp, Daniel Blumer received an envelope in the mail. Inside was the camp’s monthly newsletter, which featured his headshot and a caption that read, “Daniel Blumer what a hottie. Sexy face, sexy body. What’s our hobby? Obsessing over you!” Half a decade later, the shriveled beige printout still remains tacked to the family fridge, a testament to his popularity and good looks.

The 24-year-old recalls a time when he did not feel so popular. After graduating from the John Molson School of Business in December 2009, he began his job hunt. Equipped with optimism and a bachelor’s degree in commerce, Blumer looked for a job in marketing, but quickly learnt that opportunity was limited in his specialty. Having majored in management, Blumer, then 22, decided to expand his search to include other business-orientated professions. But he drew the line at business, never willing to search outside the field he studied.

Blumer admits that his expectation to easily find a job in his field may come off as a sense of entitlement, but says that is only because of how he and his generation were brought up. “If we have put in the hours, have good grades, and graduate university, we have every right to have a sense of entitlement. We did what we were told would lead to success.”

According to Statistics Canada, 6.7 million Canadians were born between 1980 and 1995, a group known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers. As the children of Baby Boomers, the Gen-Yers have developed a reputation in the workforce for having a sense of privilege that affects their ability to adapt. However, as Blumer expressed, his generation has a right to feel entitled because they did what they were told was necessary to secure a job in their field.  While Blumer relied on his marks, other recent graduates are of the opinion that a degree must be accompanied by internships, work experience and references. In their experience, it was having these credentials that helped them get hired.

Trying to get that first job is only one of the struggles recent graduates will experience as they enter the workforce. A difference in work ethic between generations, a more rigid schedule and a realization that the company, not you, comes first, are just a few of the things Gen-Yers will have to get used to. There seems to be a divide of opinion over who should be adapting. Several sources argue that it is the responsibility of the company to adjust to the young worker, while others, even some recent graduates, feel it is the worker who must make the adjustment. Despite this difference in opinion, the majority agrees that, once given the chance, recent graduates can become very valuable to employers, offering fresh perspectives and a good understanding of the instantaneous nature of today’s society.

It is hard to prove yourself when no one gives you the opportunity — a lesson Blumer learnt in the weeks following his university graduation. Despite strong marks, a diploma and the pride of being the vice president of marketing for POWER-it OFF, a school project about electricity conservation at university featured on CTV, Blumer could not find a job. The recreational hockey goalie was not used to being rejected. Rather, he was used to being the one who rejected the advances of others. He felt demoralized.

Annalise Iten sympathizes with recent graduates like Blumer who expect that obtaining a job will be easy. Sitting within the yellow walls of her office at Youth Employment Services Montreal, the employment counsellor and director of YES Montreal’s job search program says that it is typical for recent graduates to be unaware that their excellent grades and breadth of knowledge do not automatically translate into a job. This struggle to secure employment does not seem to prevent the Gen-Yers from entering the workforce with high expectations and a sense of entitlement.

Iten, who prefers not to over-generalize, does say though that “young people” have different expectations than the older generations when it comes to their jobs. They expect to have a good work-life balance, flex hours, autonomy, little supervision from their bosses and to work on special projects. She also mentions that this generation’s work ethic “is to have fun, and that is very very important.”

This sense of entitlement has been attributed to many things, including enrolment of children in after-school programming, the immediacy provided by the Internet and just a lack of knowledge of the workforce.

One way to ensure that recent graduates do not enter the job market with this kind of attitude is to be honest with the students during the recruitment process, says Will Christensen, 35, a senior manager with accounting and consulting firm Deloitte. The Australia native now lives in Calgary, where he manages the company’s campus recruiting team, which visits universities across the country, including Concordia and McGill University, trying to recruit students. In his experience, the worst thing for an employer or potential employer to do is to set unrealistic job expectations.

“We spend a lot of time making sure that our people are telling students on campus as much as they can about what to expect — the good and the bad,” says Christensen. “We don’t want people coming and working for us thinking that everything is great at Deloitte and everything is perfect — it is far from. There are things that we work on and things that we strive and try to correct every year.” This, says Christensen, has prevented Deloitte from dealing with some of the characteristics often associated with Generation Y, and has left the company with young employees who are willing to work and put the effort in.

Katie Pidgeon, who graduated in communications from Concordia in 2008, is one Gen-Yer whose career track shows that some recent graduates are willing to put the effort in. On the night before leaving on vacation to Cuba, the producer recalls how she used to spend her free time during university doing internships and making contacts in her field. Pidgeon worked hard to stay in touch with these contacts by sending them emails, visiting their offices and taking them out for coffee. This allowed her to begin working nearly immediately after graduation as a production co-ordinator on two television series. Once they wrapped for the season, a recommendation from a co-worker helped her get a job working at Northern Lights Direct, a commercial production house where she was soon promoted to assistant producer.

Despite her own success, she is quick to admit that she has in fact grown up in a generation that expects everything quickly. “I think our generation expects to start off where it took our previous generations years to build,” she says. “My parents tell me that all the time, ‘You just want to be and have what it took us 20 years to work for.’”

The need for immediate results is something Iten has seen a lot of while working with clients at YES Montreal. She attributes it to the way things like jobs and lifestyles are marketed to the younger generations, where they are pitched in such a way that everyone believes they will experience success without having to try.

This does not mean we won’t work for it, says 25-year-old Pidgeon. “Because we are used to things being instantaneous and everything is just right at our fingertips, we are less likely to wait for the things that we want.” In no way, though does she think this has affected her ability to adapt to the workforce. She says if anything, it has enabled her to excel in an industry like communications, where things are constantly changing. Growing up with online and social media has made her generation better equipped to handle changes than those who have been working in the industry for 30 years and “now have to figure out how to work in an industry that’s changing from what they know.”

The ability to adapt to the workforce is not only the responsibility of young employees. According to Christensen, the ethos at Deloitte is that it is the responsibility of the company to adapt its style and approach to the new generation, simply because the demographics of the workforce are shifting. “You can’t continue to manage and operate a business the same way you did 50 or 60 years ago.”

Lori Krebs, manager of public relations at Beyond the Rack, a private online shopping club based in Montreal, is used to working among young employees, as the majority of the company, including herself, is under 35 years of age. The office has what she describes as a fast-paced environment, which attracts a lot of recent graduates. They tend to be lively, energetic, motivated and eager to learn, qualities the company see as a positive addition. But with the benefits of a young staff come downfalls like a high turnover rate and immaturity. This is understandable, says Krebs, 28, as many are unfamiliar with what it is like to work for a large company. In her experience, most eventually come to understand that unlike in school, they are no longer working for themselves, but are working for the greater good of the company. “They have to realize that everything is interrelated. Their job impacts every other department.”

This is what Iten describes as the young graduate’s learning curve. “They are no longer in school, they are hitting the workforce, they are earning a paycheck and now they’ve really got to be stepping up. It is a real learning curve and that is why it is difficult – because they are no longer functioning in the same capacity anymore.”

Disloyalty is another negative quality attributed to Gen-Y workers. They may not deserve this reputation though, since many recent graduates are only offered contract jobs, which are of a limited duration. This makes it unavoidable for them to move around.  It also seems that the recession has altered the way employees view their career path, human resources consulting firm Towers Watson reported. “In contrast to earlier studies, the 2010 results indicate that Canadians have moved away from the employment notion of being a ‘free agent’ to becoming the ‘marrying kind’ — seeking lifetime careers with just one or two employers,” reads the firm’s 2010 Global Workforce Study.

This feeling of attachment is one is familiar to Michael Shatsky, who, after graduating from Concordia with an MBA last year, began working for GlaxoSmithKline. While you are more likely to catch Shatsky in a pinstriped suit than a wetsuit, the certified scuba diving instructor is very happy working for GSK. Though he only sees himself keeping his current position as general territory representative for the respiratory and urology division another year, he does not hesitate to say that he sees himself at GSK long term.

As he entered the workforce, the former environmental sciences student was motivated to rise above the reputation his generation has for being unable adapt and for having a sense of entitlement, a reputation he feels is deserved. Part of this comes from the assumption that having pursued higher education, they have the answers to all of a company’s problems, and that these answers come from textbooks. When entering the workforce with such presumptions, individuals can become alienated from their peers. This is why Shatsky says it is important to come not only with textbook knowledge but also with a humility and willingness to learn. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel — and nor are we expected to. We just need to bring a fresh and open mind to existing problems and see how we can work in synergy with the established team to achieve common goals.”

Working in teams, especially those where there are large age gaps between co-workers, can be a struggle for students fresh out of school. Although in Shatsky’s personal experience, he was treated well by his co-workers, he says, respect is never just given. The individual joining the team must earn it.

While respect is important, according to Iten, a willingness to adapt must be present in both the Gen-Yers and the co-workers. This can be difficult, she says, because “the older generations” tend to not always understand the struggles experienced by recent graduates, like the pressure put on them to find a job related to their field of study.

Blumer understands this pressure all too well. Even when he was unable to find a job, he refused to settle. “I never said to myself  ‘I am willing to work anywhere as long as I’m employed.’ To have that mentality, after three years of university, seemed kind of pointless.”  He says settling would be insinuating that his degree and past education were completely useless and unnecessary. To older people, this attitude might be read as the younger generations complaining and having overly high expectations, but Iten says these labels are unfair because the working world has completely changed for today’s youths. There are “way more options, far more precarious, so much more uncertainty,” factors made worse by the pressure put on graduates to find a jobs in their field. When there are no jobs, says Iten, it is a hard realization for graduates.

Eventually, Blumer was able to trade in his polo shirts and khakis for suits and ties when he was hired at Tempbridge Commercial Mortgages Inc., a private commercial mortgage lender. Looking back on his job hunt, he explains that while he never expected people just to give him a job, he did expect there to be more jobs available. He had told himself that getting the university degree was “the hard part” and that finding a job would be the part that just came naturally.

“In reality, the pursuit of a profession can be more stressful and time consuming than anything that university can throw at you.”


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