The Center for Generational Kinetics labels those born in 1996 and later as iGen, Gen Z, or Centennials. For the rest of this article, I will simply refer to them as iGen. The oldest of this generation reaches legal age for alcohol consumption this year (where allowed by law), which means a portion have already entered the workforce.
Recently, I've gathered some observations regarding this youngest generation that I found interesting.
Observation 1: Ads
Starting in 2016, one of my weekly meetings started meeting in our company cafeteria. Instead of being hidden away in a meeting room, the host of the meeting decided having our sessions out in the open would be something to try. We typically meet in the late afternoon, so the cafeteria area is empty most of the time and makes for a more relaxed atmosphere.
During our last meeting, one of the television sets was still on and the volume was louder than usual. Before the television was turned off, our conversation had raced down a rabbit-hole that was focused on advertisements. Still not sure how this became the topic of our conversation.
One guy in the meeting talked about how his kids told him, "Dad, don't buy [product name goes here]" when an advertisement appeared while spending time with them. His kids were adamant that he should not be spending his money on that particular product. Confused, he had to ask why. Their reason was simple: "Because they always have an ad that we must watch before we can watch our YouTube videos."
These children, part of the iGen generation, were frustrated because they had to wait five to 30 seconds before being able to watch a video on YouTube. They were so frustrated that they wanted to boycott the actual product.
Observation 2: Wanna Be a YouTube Star
In another example, I had a friend recently tell me that his daughter's life ambition is to simply become a YouTube sensation. Those are not her exact words, but she wants to upload videos on YouTube and get paid for doing so based on the millions that will (hopefully) follow her.
When I think back to that time of my life, I wanted to be a rock star. I knew it was a pipe dream, full of others with the same dream. If I were to guess, I would say that being a YouTube sensation is the iGen generation's equivalent to being a rock star.
I originally thought there was a huge difference between my dreams and my friend's daughter's dreams. To be a rock star, you had to have some type of musical ability, I thought. However, then I remembered quite a few bands and artists that became mainstream that disproved my theory. So, maybe they are not that different after all.
Observation 3: Post-Recession Values
In talking about differences between Millennials and the iGen group, we realized they may have a different outlook. For the older iGen generation members, they may have memories from the recession(s) that occurred earlier in their life. Living through a recession, even at a young age, makes it easy to understand that there are times when things get tough and sacrifices need to be made.
This is probably a key difference between Millennials and iGen — at least, the older segment of that generation.
With these examples, my mind has wondered how the iGen generation will impact the workforce in Information Technology.
Over the last two years, I have interviewed quite a few Millennials and found some interesting differences from prior generations:
They will refer to Node.js as backend, which was hard for me to grasp initially.
They are more apt to be members of social and community groups (i.e., participating in hackathons).
Their idea of dressing up for the interview often does not include dress pants and a tie.
In every case, these differences did not impact the hiring process, but it was interesting to recognize how they are different from older generations.
The Center for Generational Kinetics has provided an infographic on how technology usage will change with the youngest generation, which I found interesting.
If I were to guess how the iGen generation will differ during the interview process, I would make these predictions:
They may prefer to write code from a mobile device or a tablet.
Their mobile device will not be muted and they may actually take a call during the interview process.
You won't likely find a Facebook page for them.
They are more likely to have used Uber or Lyft to arrive at the interview.
Of course, these are simply guesses, and I am certain the next generation will present a new angle when entering the workforce. However, I am confident this generation will be just as valuable as every other generation has proven to be within Information Technology.