Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The world is not an oyster

I came across this post on my friend, Gerard's blog. Gerard runs his own web company and his blog talks about corporate and work issues. But this post spoke volumes to me because it's symptomatic of how the Gen Y (whom we parents are raising) thinks. I'd encountered this sort of attitude too many times when I was working at a local university.

In my post "Are you a key?", I alluded to how over-indulgent parenting can lead to this sense of entitlement. (This view was reinforced by other parents who commented). Now Gerard says this phenomenon is made worse by the attitude of tertiary institutions. I remember when I first started work, I was under a scholarship bond and was so grateful to have work that my only thought was how to perform to prove to my employer that I was worthy of it. This mindset is now as extinct as the dodo. And it's disturbing.

Here's the post reproduced in full:

The World is Not An Oyster

Sometimes, I really want to blame it squarely on the schools. Especially fancy tertiary institutions that spin PR about how their graduates will become masters of the universe. Be it for recruitment, marketing or funding purposes, there is a dire consequence of such spin - unrealistic expectations borne by fresh graduates.

It is a phenomenon experienced in all developed economies, and across industries. Young recruits and interview candidates expect to be in positions that are high profile and high impact. They want to be in charge of marketing strategies when they have little domain knowledge. Or even having visited the real-world places where the commercial and human activities take place. Tell them that their entry level positions require maybe a few years of grind like hitting the stores, number crunching and mind-numbing paperwork, and they make for the exit faster than a premature ejaculation.

As I read the business magazines, I find scant consolation that CXOs of major corporations face the same recruitment and human resource issues as our small interactive agency. Even when the candidates say they really want a get into the Internet field, what they really mean is they want to work on big brand accounts that allow them to score big points. They want to do award-winning creative work; take control of the online marketing destiny of a product; write codes for the next YouTube. And if you do not mind, please pay them very well because they have the potential to deliver for you.

It is a good thing I do not do the first line of interviews, which is handled by our operations director at Convertium. Wait till you hear her stories. She tells me that the human resource conferences she attends talk about the issue of the millennium generation - kids coming into the market with rose-tinted glasses and a major dose of entitlement. I tell her to give as good as she gets from the kids.

Whatever happened to simple values (and logic) like, if I perform well please pay me more and promote me? To make matters even more fun in Singapore, even “foreign talents” from neighbouring countries are being caught in the zeitgeist of asking for the world before showing the goods. And it does not help that we have an “official” culture of pay-more, pay-more.

So, coming back to the tertiary institutions, yes, your under-graduates are smart kids. They probably know a lot about something or other. But please do not lead them on to think without reservation that the world is their oyster. Expect them to taste some cockles first.

This article was written in June 2007, when the world was still high from a buoyant stock market, when jobs were a-plenty and euphoria was in the air over the upcoming Beijing Olympics. How the tide has turned in just half a year.

Maybe this financial crisis has a silver lining. Maybe universities will stop promising the sky. Maybe parents will stop putting their kids on a pedestal. And maybe, just maybe, the kids will wake up to the idea that the world doesn't owe them squat. I don't know. But I have hope that common sense will prevail.


Lilian said...

Monica, this isn't Eusoff's Gerard Lim right?

Btw, weren't you the one who started the whole University undergrad spin when you did the first adverts for SMU? The ones with the kids jumping in the air, showing how cool an SMU undergrad was? That got the other unis scrambling to rid themselves of their staid reputation. Look at the monster you created! :)

eunice said...

I agree with Gerard. Honestly, I shudder to think about the future when our children are the ones 'running' the world. They not only feel that they are owed but that any failure or setback is not their fault.

monlim said...

Lilian: no, this Gerard is also from NUS but a few years older than us. Yes I admit, I started the whole university branding trend with the SMU ads. Now everyone wants to do it. The problem of universities over selling is real - I know cos I've written the admissions brochures for all the local Us here and they all want to sound like they can create superstars. (oh dear, I'm compounding the problem!) But what to do? They're all competing for students. And they're the clients so what the client wants, the client gets!

Eunice: I know! Hopefully this financial crisis will be a good wake-up call for everyone.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...