This is ONE OF 5 responses to VC 23 Janine 11 ("Job vs Career")...
I recently read an interesting article (based on a book by Douglas Coupland called Generation X) which relates to the ongoing discussion of underemployment, working for fun, etc.
The article focuses on the 18 to 29 year old population, first trying to assign a name (like Baby Boomers) to this group. The article claims that this is group is alienated, unacclaimed, far too cynical for their age, and the best educated generation ever produced (59% go on to college).
Yet they confound their elders by refusing to vote (20% in the last election) or even read newspapers. They embrace few causes other than the environment, roll their eyes at 1960 Utopianism, and curse the money culture of the 80s. Although many are trapped in dead end Mc-jobs, quality of life takes top priority. This group has barely made a dent on popular culture - no social statement.
So, what do you call this group of twentysomethings? The articles author relates some possibilities - Baby Busters, Latchkey generation, Lost generation, Yiffies (Young, independent, freedom-minded few), Yuckees (Young, underemployed college kids, economically endangered), and Generation X.
The group is abandoning past models of success. They've given up on corporate America, on making lots of money, power lunches, and other yuppie things. They envy the comfortable lifestyles of parents and older siblings, but long for simple values and substance as much as fat wallets.
If they do land good jobs, they are likely to quit for more rewarding callings. They don't want to devote their lives to work and cetainly not to one company - they don't feel the payoff is there.
With no house, investments, or kids to protect, many political issues are meaningless. The 20% of this group who voted did so for Reagan and Bush, agreeing with images that promote traditional authority figures with basic values and simple solutions. However, the article goes on to point out that this allegiance may be weakening - Jerry Brown owes his political survivial to this group who support the fellow outsider.
What does it mean?
Many economists are predicting that this generation will be the first to end up with a standard of living below that of their parents. They will have fewer houses, both husband and wife will work, kids may spend time with them - but in the context of office daycare. As the economy rebounds, their small size may work in their favor. Job shortages may result, giving them their pick of careers.
Eventually, they will plug into society and begin voting. They will demand more substance from politics. More educated, they will boost support for the arts and education, and certainly demand tougher environmental laws.
All in all, not too bad a future.