The current situation is a good reminder that as experienced practitioners we should always be open to having our norms challenged and be ready to take on board a diverse range of input. I thought it would be interesting to get the views of my teenage daughter on a range of topics related to business and the workplace. The first of Betsy’s musings provides some insight into what teenagers may look for in their dream job.
Being a 16 year old in the final years of secondary school, the glaring question “what do you want to do when you leave?” is regularly put to me by school staff and family members. Schools tend to sell the traditional route: university and then a job. We’re given a bunch of university leaflets and guides, told the dates of the open days and then sent on our way. Very rarely is the part after that mentioned: entering the big world of careers.
What do I look for in a job? How should I pick a work environment that is right for me? Is the paycheque or ethics of the company more important to me? In a culture where one of the first questions put to a teenager is “what do you want to do when you’re older?”, the lack of guidance on how to pick a job is surprising to me.
So, after thinking about where I see myself in 10 years, here are the top things that I (as a typical teenager) consider important when looking for a job:
Everyone appears to dread going to work or hate their job. So it seems silly not to look for something that I would find enjoyable and feel passionate and motivated about. More and more, young people are looking for companies that prioritise purpose as well as profit and when I go to work, I want to be proud of the contribution I’ve made to the organisation and the world. Young people are becoming more and more concerned with leaving a good mark. I’d look for a less corporate company where people genuinely care about what they’re doing and one where I’d feel excited and inspired to work.
Environment and community
Another important thing to me is the environment I work in. Having just come from (potentially) 17 years of the education system, teenagers are tired of nodding robotically to a teacher and being terrified by authority figures. We want a hands-on role in the business, to have room for creativity and innovation. Responsibility and trust is also important, having the opportunity to move up within the company is a great motivator.
In addition to this, working with likeminded people who I get along with is important to me. A sense of community within the workplace and the ability to make friends increases the value of the job massively in my eyes.
Growing up in the era of modern technology, the majority of teenagers are pretty technologically savvy. If anything, the recent coronavirus pandemic has shown that working from home and flexible working is very manageable. Flexibility between the office, home, or a coffee shop etc should be encouraged!
The ever bewildering concept of “business casual” is also another mystery the education system failed to teach us. Do you want me in a suit, or jeans? (preferably the latter). Whilst I understand that dressing professionally is sometimes unavoidable, a more laid back stance on dress code is more appealing to me.
Work life balance is also vital. My work shouldn’t define my personality, but enhance it. Flexibility with hours and holidays is important.
It’s hard to ignore the big one: the paycheque. As much as I’m sure everyone would like to pretend the amount of digits on their payslip doesn’t matter to them, it clearly does. Of course I’m going to strive towards the best pay I can get. As well as the salary, benefits and rewards are important. Do I get a car allowance? How many days holiday do I get? What about health insurance? Materialistic, but honest.
Opportunities and experiences, such as travel and events are also big pull factors for me. As someone who wants to work in the media (specifically PR) industry, the idea of travelling to big cities or going to press events is really appealing.
As a 16 year old looking at the big world of work I would condense my seemingly long list of ideals down to this: I want to enjoy the job, the community and company as well as enjoying the atmosphere and opportunities and the paycheque. The repetitive word being “enjoy”. I think nowadays teenagers are surrounded by people who see work as a chore but I really don’t want this to be the case. It could be considered aspirational or idealistic, but I have an optimistic view of the future.