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Gen Z’s Dream Jobs Are Very Different from Millennials

We asked Gen Z and Millennials what their dream jobs are—and there were significant differences between their responses…


YPulse’s recent What’s Next For Work trend report explores how the pandemic has provoked a monumental change for young people and their careers. And if one thing is for certain from our research, it’s that Gen Z and Millennials are fueling The Great Resignation, with more than half saying they’re interested in changing jobs or industries. We delve into what’s driving young people to leave their jobs, their biggest career priorities, the future of workplace culture, the amplified gender gap, and what employers need to know about these next generations.

To reach young, new prospective employees, brands like Nerf, JanSport, and McCormick have been crafting roles tailored to target young people and their interests, and we filled you in on the top companies they want to work for. But as young consumers reassess their career aspirations amid The Great Resignation, what jobs do they really want? In our trend survey, we asked 13-39-year-olds what their dream jobs are, and discovered some notable differences when it comes to what Gen Z and Millennials want to do:

While there’s some similarities between Gen Z and Millennials’ top dream jobs, there are some jobs that are clearly far more appealing among the younger generation. When asked what their dream job is, Millennials’ top response is business owners / entrepreneurs. While our What’s Next For Work trend found that entrepreneurship is appealing to both generations post-COVID,  Millennials are currently more likely than Gen Z to say they aspire to be entrepreneurs. In fact, 9% of Millennials who left their job in the last year did so to start their own companies. Given that the older generation is more likely to be financially stable and have more job experience than their younger counterparts, they may be more confident in taking the step of working for themselves.

Meanwhile, Gen Z’s top dream job is to be a doctor / specialist / surgeon, and there’s a lot of evidence to back up their interest in the medical and healthcare industry. Many young respondents tell us they want to be doctors to “help people” and “save people’s lives,” and according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), applications for admissions to U.S. medical schools increased 17% over the last year—a larger increase than in previous years. Many factors have likely contributed to this, including young prospective employees’ desire for a reliable career during “uncertain times,” an easier application process due to extended deadlines, and the motivation to help communities during a time of crisis. The same aspects could be applied to the second in their ranking, which is psychologists  / therapists / counselors. Our State of Mind trend research found that more than half of 13-39-year-olds say their mental health has been negatively impacted by COVID—and the desire to help others struggling during this time seems to be just strong. The Wall Street Journal reported that the pandemic “accelerated a career-change trend that has been on the rise for years: more people are becoming therapists.” Thanks to the flexibility of telemedicine and text therapy combined with more people seeking mental health treatment during lockdowns, more people are jumping into the field. According to U.S. government data, the number of mental health counselors increased 19 % According to Antioch University, applications for their clinical psychology graduate program increased 200% this fall, while the National Register of Health Service Psychologists say they are seeing a record number of new applicants seeking to be credentialed.

But perhaps one of the most significant differences when it comes to dream jobs for Gen Z and Millennials (and the one that many will be focused on) is that Gen Z is much more likely to say they want to be influencers / content creators compared to Millennials. We’ve long said that Gen Z is most likely  to be under the influence of influencers, and this data shows that they’re also more likely to aspire to be online creators themselves. According to premier influencer marketing agency Takumi, they received twice as many applications from people looking for representation in 2020 than in the previous year—with their year-to-date applications growing 150-200%. The shift to ecommerce and digital marketing is boosting the need for content creators of all backgrounds, and according to Takumi’s CEO Mary Keane-Dawson, opportunities for creators are constantly evolving since advertisers “don’t want to use the same influencer again and again.” eMarketer reports that brands are expected to spend $4 billion in 2022, with Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok being the top platforms for brands to spend their influencer marketing dollars. Newer platforms like influencer ecommerce platform Emcee are making a major play for Gen Z by giving influencers a platform to authentically showcase their favorite products, and F*** You Pay Me is working to minimize pay disparity for content creators. YPulse’s celebrities and influencers behavioral report found that more than half of 13-20-year-olds want to be an online celebrity—and we’ve told you that online celebs are Gen Z’s favorite celebrities. This generation has grown up seeing people just like them become online sensations, and create careers around social media. While other generations may still look down at the idea of influencer as a career path, Gen Z is clearly embracing it.

YPulse Business users can access the full What’s Next For Work trend report and full data here.

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