Recently my boss passed on an article to me called, “Gen Y Career Advice: Don’t Follow Your Passion; Do This Instead.” After reading the piece — which is written by Lauren Friese, the founder of Talent Egg (a leading job board in Canada) — I thought it would make for a great way to start a new conversation topic here on the #YUBlog: CAREER Talks. CAREER Talks will be a new series on the blog that will highlight a variety of topics pertinent to students’ professional futures such as specializations, networking, interviews and more! If you would like to read Friese’s original article before continuing with this post, you can do so here! If you’re a little pressed for time right now, I also have you covered below with a general synopsis. Before we start, though, let me give you all some background on what the words millennial and Gen Y mean in context.
Millennials/Gen Y Explained:
Millennials, also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y, are the cohort of people born in the years between the 1980s and the 2000s. They succeed the generation often referred to as the baby boomers. Best characterized (if I may say so myself) by the words sophisticated, tech-savvy, and somewhat demanding, millennials represent the future workforce of Office 2020. They are also often categorized as people who require instant gratification in the workplace, express the need for a good work-life balance and want to work for companies that are socially responsible.
Article Synopsis & Food for Thought
According to Friese, the words “follow your passion” have been romanticized from the 1990s to the 2000s. People are told and often encouraged by society to find work in a field that they are passionate about. The author, however, argues that it is not only hard to find a passion (what is that, anyway?) but also difficult — almost impossible — to align something one cares deeply, passionately, about with a job in the workplace. She counters that instead of building such unrealistic expectations, millennials should find their “flow.”
Friese describes flow as the “cousin of passion”: It encourages individuals to actively seek out situations in which they are at their best or have felt particularly happy — and then to try to build a career around that skill or approach.
The article provides a simple example: Perhaps you have noticed you have a penchant for teaching and mentoring, whether it is in your sports club, with your younger siblings or with classmates who are struggling with a particular course. Instead of focusing only on the possibility of later working at educational institutions — something millennials often do — you could expand your horizons by delving into other industries and then narrowing your options using the framework of your flow. In this particular scenario, the framework of the flow is achieved when you instruct, and you can apply that in variety of areas, for example, working for a learning and development team within a corporation.
Despite personally believing in the power of “passion” and where it can lead you, I do agree with the author’s main points. If you do not already know from my bio, I hope to specialize in the field of accounting. Let me clarify: I sincerely like accounting, but it’s not my passion; I find its premise — helping others make business decisions — to be my flow. Within the field of accounting, not only am I able to fulfill my flow, I am also able to follow my passion by having the opportunity to work with companies in various industries such as not-for-profit and technology. And I think this is exactly what the author is trying to say: finding a job within your flow doesn’t mean you can’t follow your passion; rather, it means that you can find a profession that gives you the opportunity to work with your passion, without letting it make the decisions for you.
Have you found your flow and/or your passion? Unsure of what that means? Discussing with trusted friends, family and mentors can help . . . as well as a walk to the Career Centre. Let us know your thoughts.