Millennials Made These Career Mistakes So Gen-Z Can Learn

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Millennials. When will we every stop talking about them?!  

Seems like that’s not happening any time soon, so I might as well share with Gen Z these observations I’ve made about what millennials do wrong with their careers. These are observations I’ve made as a millennial myself, surrounded by fellow millennial friends. So make no mistake, I totally get us!  

So without further ado, here are the 3 big observations (guilty as charged on some parts as well): 

1. Millennials love getting degrees that are irrelevant

(or honestly quite useless)  

Maybe it is what our parents want us to do. Maybe it is the easiest course to complete. Maybe it is the coolest and trendiest course, or maybe it is just what is available at that point of time. 

A lot of us choose our degree courses for reasons other than “It is what I truly want to do”. 

And it can cause really dire effects especially when it comes to our future building and career making!

When you’re a fresh graduate trying to land a job, it is less about your paper qualifications and more about actually nailing your interviews. In fact, work experience weighs more than paper qualifications these days.  

So Gen-Z, AVOID THIS MISTAKE!

You do not need to be overly fixated on getting a certificate. Degrees are not ‘safety nets’ anymore. The new ‘safety nets’ are your WORK EXPERIENCES 

Get yourself out there and do what you really want to do. Or at least put one foot towards that direction by doing internships or shadowing someone. It’s okay to start nowhere near where your end goal is as long as you keep working towards it. As Drake once famously said,

“Started from the bottom now we’re here.”

If you still feel that you really need to get that certificate, that is totally understandable. But if you can’t decide on which course to study, here are some simple guiding questions to help you not waste tens of thousands of dollars in your pursuit of a degree:

i. Ask yourself what you truly enjoy doing.

Then try to imagine a perfect day at work. Does it happen when you are able to sit at your desk for the entire day to complete administrative work? Is a perfect day when your job allows you to be physically active? Or maybe a perfect day is when your social work has touched the lives of many in the community.

ii. Ask yourself what you are naturally strong in.

It is much easier to get better at what you are naturally strong in rather than to try and build up on a skill you perhaps lack. Now think about part (i) again and ask yourself how your natural strengths can help you do your job breezily. This can help you narrow your choices when it comes to selecting your courses too.

iii. Ask if you can see yourself being in that career at least for the next 5 years.  

5 years may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t. If you can’t imagine yourself holding out for 5 years, maybe don’t even bother a career in that direction! Pursuing a degree in a field you are not even remotely interested in can prove to be a struggle, and the same will happen for your future job.

2. Millennials sometimes only consider job offers in companies that offer trendy employee benefits. 

Think nap pods, pool table, great cafeteria with free flow food and drinks, or bicycles and e-scooters around the campus.  

Sounds really fun to work in a company with these great benefits doesn’t it?  

Heck, you might even pick a job that is NOTHING like what you have studied in school! Whatever the job is don’t matter, as long as you are working for this awesome company with surfboards for meeting tables. You’d be glad to do mundane work every single day.   

Well Gen Z, please prioritise better than us! 

Don’t forget that work is still work. Choosing where you work based on how much fun they can offer is not exactly the best parameters to make your decision. I get that having slides in the office is reeaaaally enticing (besides, it saves time on travelling!), but don’t forget to be realistic with where your next job will lead you.  

When choosing a job, you can start by analysing your own strengths and weaknesses. Knowing yourself better will help ensure that you will be happier in your new job and might even make it easier for you to get the role. After that, list down some possible career opportunities that you know you can shine in.  

Essentially, avoid blindly applying for roles (especially roles that you don’t understand) just because the organisation is pretty awesome.

Build your own career around yourself first. If you are able to find an opening in an organisation with great benefits, it becomes a double-win situation!

3. Many millennials think that they can ride on natural talents throughout their lives.

I know a bit was mentioned about finding out what your natural strengths are. But a lot of millennials misunderstand that this means you can ride on your natural talents your entire life.

Once again Gen-Z, do not make this mistake! 

It is a great asset to understand your natural strengths and leveraging on them. But if you do not invest in your strengths and hone them throughout the years, someone else who is more determined will eventually overtake you in the rat race.  

It takes time to hone your natural talents. This can be done by two simple ways: 

(i) Acquiring Knowledge 

The world keeps moving and evolving every day. What you thought you knew about your work today, can turn obsolete the next day. It is very important to keep acquiring knowledge to ensure that the information you know and have are ‘updated’ with the times.

It is always better to pile on the knowledge when it comes to your work. Gaining knowledge can be done by things as simple as reading the news every day, learning from your fellow colleagues, or even studying concepts by going for courses or even just the library.

(ii) Acquiring Skills 

So you have acquired all the knowledge there is in the world that can help you understand your work so much better.

What’s next you ask? It is time to put the knowledge into application by turning them into useful skills. 

Just like muscles, you need to flex those skills in order for them to develop and become useful. Just flexing them every once in a while is not good enough. In order to be great at your job, you need to spend time mastering these skills by practicing constantly.

Keep acquiring new knowledge and developing your skills to ensure that you are constantly upgrading yourself with the changing times. You want to remain an important asset to your company, NOT a disposable! 

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

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