The cliché about young professionals in America (one of them anyway) is they won’t settle for a job that just pays well — it has to be something they want to do. It has to be a calling that allows them to feel as if they are contributing to the greater good.
As with most bits of conventional wisdom, this one lacks nuance, said Adunola Adeshola, a 25-year-old from Houston who has carved out a niche giving career advice to her peers.
After graduating from Texas State University in 2014, Adeshola started work in public relations, her dream job — or so she thought. Not too long after, she quit to strike out on her own. “It was cool, fun and exciting for a while … until it wasn’t,” she said. Now her role is to help people her own age do what she did — find a new job.
From this perch, Adeshola has a clear view of what young professionals actually want. And while millennials and Gen Zers are more practical than their cranky elders give them credit for, some are being lulled into a false sense of security, Adeshola said, that doesn’t match the rocky landscape ahead.
Bloomberg spoke with Adeshola about her generation and the stereotypes she thinks are unfair — and the ones that are spot on. The following comments have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Bloomberg: How did you get into this role?
Adunola Adeshola: I just realized that a lot of my friends worked a lot of cool jobs at places like IBM and other companies that people look at and would say, “Oh, it looks like you love your job!” But a lot of them weren’t happy.
Q: What are millennials looking for in a job?
A: One thing that I’ve noticed that’s a buzzword for a lot of my clients is “impact.” What that means is the woman who works in beauty and the beauty industry as a market manager and wants to see how she can impact real women and capture real women’s beauty. It’s people wanting to do things that matter to them and where their skill set is.
Q: What are some stereotypes that you don’t think are true about millennials in the workplace?
A: People like to say that millennials are job hoppers and they’re quick to jump, but I talk to a lot of millennials who are very loyal. The caveat is they’re not loyal to their companies, but they’re loyal to the things that are valuable to them. They’re very loyal to their projects and their colleagues.
You always hear that millennials are so crazy about finding their passion and they’re willing to settle for a lower income to pursue their purpose. I don’t find that to be true. They’re in a place where they can have both.
Q: What do you tell companies they need to attract and retain millennials?
A: People really want to feel challenged and people need to know that there is career growth here. The No. 1 reason that I hear people want to leave is that they’re bored. They don’t feel challenged. They don’t feel like they’re doing what they want to do.
Q: What is unique about millennial career goals?
A: I was just talking to someone today, and she isn’t happy in her career, and her parents were saying, “Look, just live a simple life. You don’t have to have the job as long as you have what you need. You don’t have to strive for more.”
Millennials just aren’t into that. I think their goal is to grow into the best person they can be but also be able to do other things because their job gives them the energy to not be a couch potato.
Q: Do you think priorities will change with the markets — do you think millennials will make concessions?
A: We’re at a place where it can’t change, where you can’t go back. More companies are going in the direction of remote work, and it’s not about how long you’re there but about how much you’re contributing to your company. For that reason, millennials don’t see why they have to settle. There’s no reason for them to think they can’t have that — especially because of social media.
Q: What role does social media play in all of this?
A: Life is like a highlight reel on Instagram. You’re comparing yourself to someone who shows their cool meetings or gadgets or whatever, but they actually were crying on the way to work. But you don’t see that.
It’s a constant rat race that a lot a people wouldn’t want to be a part of — if they knew the real story.