Why Corporate Camo Is Necessary For Gen-Y

Posted by Daniel in Advice, Jobs, Life, Planning, Uncategorized

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It’s no wonder that many boomers and gen-xers think we are the worst generation.   We’ve had our helicopter parents swoop in and save us when we’ve gotten into rough situations, we’ve been told our whole lives that we should dream big and that we have the power to change the world (and we believe it!), and most of us have never seen our parents struggle so we “don’t know what it takes.”

Our elders look at those of our generation who decided to take “a year off” to travel, are still jobless because they haven’t found the right fit, on the 5-6 year plan, or moved home to live with their parents after graduation and they tell us that we have “failed to launch.”

I am not defending my generation in this regard.  I’m almost 23 (next week!), I have a wife, two dogs, and I’m buying a house.  At times I’m disgusted by my own maturity, but at other times I’m disgusted by the lack of maturity that many of my peers show.  I have made my decisions, and I am happy, others have made their decisions and I hope they are happy, but in order to change the world like we have been told and taught that we will do; some of us need to camouflage ourselves.

There are some great companies who realize that they need to adapt and appeal to us in order to thrive, you know who they are because you most likely researched them as a place you want to work.  But when the reality of being a college grad steps in and you don’t get your dream job, you’ll learn that at most companies it will be a struggle to make the company more gen-y compatible.  It will be a struggle that will last until we are in positions of power and can effectively fight for what we believe.  Until then we must fall into line, we must play the game, we must appeal to Gen-X and the Boomers.  We need to act more mature than we are and we will climb the ladder.  Then, when the time is right, we can grab the reigns and make the changes that are needed.

What this entails:

  • Do not allow your parents to involve themselves in your workplace.
  • Dress up.  If your dress code is business casual, wear dressy casual.
  • Stay clean cut.  Shave and get a haircut, long hair is not boomer compatible.
  • Imitate.  Older people love younger people that remind them of themselves.
  • Go out of your way to impress them.

I know this goes against much that we believe to be true and what many people try tell us about ourselves, but unless you work for one of the few companies that is truly gen-y compatible this cammo will be necessary to make the changes we want.  Our fault as a generation is thinking that we can have our dreams now, but we must realize that in order to achieve our dreams and the changes we wish to see we need to plot out a realistic path and work towards acheiving them.

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14 comments

  1. leafless

    This is so true. Thanks for raising this issue.

  2. danielb

    Thanks Leafless!

  3. Mark

    Not to take away from your points here — they’re very good — but I don’t think this is specific to Generation Y. I’m a younger Gen Xer at 32, and I feel like I’m just coming out of that “camo mode” after ten years in the industry. I work at a pretty large, conservative company, but we work with several small to medium vendors and consulting firms and see the same general demographics and behaviors there.

    Everyone must learn the status quo to a degree before they gain co-workers’ trust enough to be allowed to make changes and take risks. Endure the “youngest in the room” jokes for a few years, and when you find yourself beginning to envy the people hearing those jokes just a little bit, you’re in a very good position: old enough to have credibility, young enough to relate to the new talent, and still hungry and creative.

    Don’t ever buy in to the status quo! :-) No one ever became successful doing the same thing as everyone else.

  4. That Saddity Chic

    Your tips are spot on. I used to work for a private medical practice a few years ago. Clothing wise it was very relaxed. Some people used to come in with stains on their clothes lol. But I dressed up everyday (suit, heels, button down shirts) and stayed professional. The boss really took notice and within a year I was promoted to Director of Marketing and started travelling the country for my job, when we switched buildings I was given the big corner office with the great view and he wanted my opinion on everything with the business. Granted everyone else was with the company for years.

    So, the way you carry yourself really does speak volumes. You never know when your being watched.

  5. danielb

    @ Mark, I agree. I think it’s definitely an issue for everyone entering the workforce, but possibly Gen-Y more, due to the general sentiment that we expect to be the CEO by friday. I do completely agree with the Status Quo point, you’re comments are spot on!

    @ Chic, thanks for the comment. That’s a great story, and your wardrobe really does speak volumes about you!

  6. stetoscope

    Hi, your post give me the impression that you are feeling attacked, or like genY could be attacked.
    But, I do l like your advice gen Y can be a great generation.

  7. danielb

    I don’t necessarily feel like gen-y is being attacked, but I constantly see a sort of facination by older generations that we think we are going to change the world (which I believe we will…drastically). I feel like the media and a great number of the older generations look down at us (not attack), snicker a bit behind our backs, and they don’t think we can do it. I believe that we can, but we need to climb the ladders a bit more before we can effectively take the reigns. In order to speedily climb the ladders we need to appeal more to the older generations. I think realistically we have another 5 years before we start seeing drastic changes. We need our numbers in the workforce to grow, and we need to be in more powerful positions.

  8. KC

    “Our fault as a generation is thinking that we can have our dreams now, but we must realize that in order to achieve our dreams and the changes we wish to see we need to plot out a realistic path and work towards achieving them.”

    That is so right.

    Hey, realistic does not mean ‘giving in’. It means knowing that there are other people in the world that you need to work with to be successful. And most of your corporate leaders WANT you to be successful, if for nothing else, than it means we are successful too.

  9. danielb

    KC, I completely agree. Everyone I’ve been around in the corporate world genuinely wants me to succeed, and I love that. But they also acknowledge that I need to somewhat keep my head down through the first few years of my career.

  10. Jaclyn

    Daniel, nice post and thanks for the link.

    I agree with your sentiments… I think Mark brings up an interesting point, that this isn’t specific to Gen. Y, but I think the difference between Gen. Y and other gens is that millennials are aiming to change this. So rather than following your reasonable advice, they want to chart a new course. Ryan Healy’s post is a perfect example of this attitude.

    I’m all for Gen. Y making an impact and I buy into the analysis that says we’re going to change stuff… but I don’t think this is the way to do it. I think we can reform the workplace, but not at the expense of paying our dues and some other stuff…. hmm, you’ve really got me thinking. I might have to write a post about this…

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