Can We Officially Retire The 'Trophy Generation' Label?
- July 7th, 2009
- 2 Comments
Reading through responses to the New York Times’ piece, reg. required, on college students, a.k.a. “The Trophy Generation,” missing out on the challenging jobs and internships they would have secured in summers past, I couldn’t help but appreciate this astute observation from XX blogger Torie Bosch:
...much as I hate to bust a cliche, the expression “trophy kids” misses a rather important point: It sucks to get one of those participation trophies.
I hadn’t expressed the sentiment in so many words, but I also never really felt like the phrase suited the ranks of Gen-Yers I knew who had spent considerable time and effort to find (or create) their own way onto the playing field. And the latest campus-based research from our friends at SurveyU [now available for sale on Ypulse Research] supported my anecdotal proof, finding that contrary to the stereotypes: many college students expected to stay at the same company for five years or more, most had a realistic grasp on a typical entry-level salary (students were, in fact, twice as likely to want personal satisfaction than experience or money at a first job), and more than half of those surveyed expected to be in the work force for the next 40 plus years. Not exactly a portrait of job-hopping, entitled ne’er do wells set on rushing to the finish line.
Of course, the argument is now almost besides the point. Or, at least, put on hold. Because the latest batch of Millennials set to enter the job market, either temporarily for the summer or for the long haul, are being forced to forfeit the season.
The irony, of course, isn’t lost on the Times. As with most of the related articles I’ve posted in Essentials these past few months, there is a clear undertone of “how far the mighty Millennials have fallen.” The paradigm in the Times’ piece is Will Ehrenfeld:
Or Will Ehrenfeld, a political science major at Tufts, who worked at a think tank last year and this summer was aiming higher: a White House internship. When the White House didn’t come through, and neither did the State Department or dozens of companies he applied to, Mr. Ehrenfeld, 20, moved back home to Vernon, Conn. Even the local Boston Market had no work.
To me, the real irony here is the attention that’s only now being paid to the ambition and momentum so many of these students possessed before they were stopped in their tracks by the downturn. But maybe in the long run the perspective will benefit relations between future employees and employers alike.