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Generation Y

Quarterlife Magazine Examines The Life Of Gen Y

There’s a new kid on the block, and, no, he doesn’t sing for his supper. He writes. This summer Paul Eulette, 23, started QuarterLife Magazine, a weekly magazine written by Gen Yers with content for Gen Yers. With 15 international writers, the magazine covers topics including politics, music, business and culture.

There’s a new kid on the block, and, no, he doesn’t sing for his supper. He writes.

 

This summer Paul Eulette, 23, started QuarterLife Magazine, a weekly magazine written by Gen Yers with content for Gen Yers. With 15 international writers, the magazine covers topics including politics, music, business and culture.

 

Eulette started the magazine to give Gen Yers a positive presence in society, since most of our public representatives are the Paris Hiltons and Brittany Spears' of the world.

 

“I wanted to show that there are people out there that can use their brains and think,” Eulette said in an interview. “That’s the overarching theme of the magazine. And to show the people of our generation that they don’t have to be like the Paris Hiltons.”

 

I was excited when I learned this, because, as a Gen Yer myself, I think we are often either pooh-poohed as too young and inexperienced to think about such serious things, or thought too ditzy to care. And as an older sister, I certainly don’t want my younger siblings taking the “greats” of the MTV/Hollywood scene as role models!

 

But QuarterLife is written for Gen Y, not about us. Thus, each issue focuses on topics pertinent to life as a twenty-something. For instance, the last issue centered on urban life and included articles such as whether all major metro cities are considered liberal and the effects of intercity poverty on a younger generation.

 

Interestingly, the readership age is 18-34 and over 55, with a 21 year age gap. (Eulette found that out through Facebook, by the way.) Eulette said he has received many tweets from the older generations expressing how much they like the magazine.

 

“The older generations want to see how the younger minds are working,” he said. One practical reason this inter-generational understanding is important is for marketing purposes, Eulette said. Now that we’ve made our entrance into the adult world, “it’s important for people to know how Generation Yers from around the world really think.”

 

Eulette graduated with a communications degree in 2008 from Clemson University in South Carolina. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He came up with the idea for the magazine as a project for a graphic communications internship in Florida. Eulette’s director was impressed with the idea and encouraged him to turn it into a real venture. While between jobs this summer, he decided to “run with the idea… [and] it went to maximum velocity in about two days.”

 

Eulette’s vision is to build the magazine’s online presence and eventually combine a print format with digital. However, “with young people, we use our computers a lot, so online is the way to go.” Eulette said social media has been one of the best ways to develop content.

 

Because of the wide variety of articles in QuarterLife, its potential impact shouldn’t be underestimated. It can help bridge the generational gap in both work and social life. Even though one particular article might not spell out all the presuppositions, thoughts, attitudes and impressions of Generation Y, a good variety can go a long way towards real understanding.

 

However, bridging the gap goes both ways. It’s easy for anyone to get caught up in the “me” part of understanding and neglect the “you.”

 

We youngsters also have to work at understanding our predecessors. We can’t be stuck in the mindset that it’s all about us and put the responsibility on others. But while we seek to find the first half in the equation of understanding, magazines like QuarterLife can help provide the second half.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.

 

Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.

 

Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.

 

Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

Melissa Hackenmueller

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