Monday, June 23, 2008

Mann tracht und Gott lacht (Man plans and God laughs)

Just as the industrial revolution created adolescence, and the 60's cemented the college experience as essential, Generation Y(id) is creating a new young adulthood period in which experiences and location trump a career, or what was formerly known as 'direction'.

While this period doesn't apply for all of us (just ask Rosh), there are larger and larger numbers of us who are spending time living abroad, quitting jobs we don't like without staying through a first promotion, and many of us who are forgoing cubical based office life all-together. We like meeting new people, doing new things, and having the pictures to prove it.

While many of our parents generation were the first to be college educated, we are virtually expected to get a bachelor's degree at the very least. And as this degree becomes a prerequisite, and a precursor to beginning a life, it also offsets our entry into adulthood. Many of us change majors multiple times, or have multiple majors, most of which don't provide us any hard skills to advance careers. In fact, college is such a ubiquitous experience for us that we don't see it as a path to a career as much as a chance to explore things of interest to us.

The result is that I (and many many of my friends)left college without a clear understanding of what I wanted to pursue, other than a list of places I wanted to visit, and an understanding that I would probably pursue at least 5 different careers over the course of my lifetime, and a sense of 'you're still young', and an internet sensibility in regards to sentence structure.

Perhaps there is no truer measure of the success of the wonderful Schusterman/Bronstein/Birthright program than the fact that we are starting to view life a little more like Israelis, who often don't start careers until they are nearly 30, and live at home until the same time.

To wrap this with a nifty little bow, there is this question that often gets asked in interviews that is indicative of this generational gap, "where do you see yourself in X years?". Generation Y(id) say, "who knows?" and that's the most exciting part.

And why should we try to envision ourselves that far into the future, after all, in the worlds of our (ashkenazi) great-grand parents, "mann tracht und Gott lacht (Man plans and God laughs)".

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