2 min read
Saksham Mendiratta
Anonymous Intern: Gen Z's Experience Gap

Do I really need to be an expert in marketing to have the right formula for follower reach, when I’m a 17-year-old TikTok addict who can get thousands of people to watch me vibe?

I’m actually 21 and I don’t really have that many followers, but you get the point. Job Descriptions are the newest scam. It’s gotten to that point that I can rap the various “skills” they want from you before you even begin working - “2 years of experience for an entry-level position” “formal portfolio with recommendations” “must have knowledge of 2 basic softwares, but would prefer if you knew 5.” My job hunt is a process filled with pre-rejection rejection, where the basics of skill expectation forbid me to even apply.

This is not really a problem as much as it is a kind of structural exploitation. 

Let me tell you why: a few weeks ago, I was enthusiastically scrolling through LinkedIn, looking for a job. Sales, marketing, that kind of thing. I came across a neat little JD for a sales’ rep position. Perks look great, and location is perfect. They wanted someone with “self-confidence” “motivation” “presentation skills” and a bunch of other things that to me sounded doable. There’s no one who knows a winning sociability better than a young adult that’s fresh-out-of-college, just said goodbye to all her batchmates and made well-meaning promises of connection, has a 3.7 GPA and even made some stellar presentations in her classes. 

I’m about to hit ‘Apply’, and that’s when I see it. Underneath the requirements, I read: “3-5 years of industry sales experience.” 

I shut my laptop with the biggest huff, knowing this is probably my fourth or fifth biggest huff in just this month. How do they expect you to have so many years under your belt for a job that’s basically the same as running for college president or something? Both need you to be excellent communicators, presenters, and convincers. And a sales job doesn’t even need you to balance your college workload while you’re doing it. And you get no money to campaign for yourself when you’re running for president, so you’re humbly going person-to-person and making your pitch, and not getting paid for it. 

And so I think, fine, it’s just this hard for everyone. My parents’ generation had their own issues getting jobs, their parents’ generation was also just too fresh out of war crises for me to make a point about it. That’s the way of the world everywhere. But what I can’t stand is the total co-option of the internet in a way that leaves behind its best customers. 

And that’s why jobs that need social media management get to me the most. “Conversant in social media analytics.” “Can create progress reports and monitor SEO and web-traffics.” “Handling design and outreach and content and video on an hourly basis.” These JDs are ridiculous because of how difficult the words make the work look. But I know it’s not - I’m literally wrought in this. 

“Conversant in social media analytics” = yes, I’m aware of likes, followers, post reaches and hashtags. I post on Instagram too, like any normal human being. I scroll endlessly and can still tell you what my specific algo (“algorithm” for you boomers) looks like. “Can create progress reports and monitor SEO and webtraffics.” = yeah guess what? I know what’s trending because I and my fellow Gen Zers are pretty much the people who make it trend. “Handling design and outreach and content and video on an hourly basis.” = Pfft, you assume I’mnoton my phone on an hourly basis? Piece of cake.

So then why do I need to have even one year of work experience to show you that I can do this?! I’m not saying that we should do away with the quality of applications or candidates. But how ironic is this? The kids who literally made the internet what it is, are now denied the opportunity to shape its career possibilities as adults. And you know, a sales job with 3-5 years of experience needed is part of a different, maybe bigger problem with job markets. 

But this is the hill I die on - asking Gen Z for work experience in a social media job is straight up disrespectful. Just give it to us or look at our feeds. Tell us what you want without it being out of the mortal realm of possibility.

And they say we’re apparently the hardest generation to crack. Not in the annoying parent way, like when your dad says things like “Why don’t you want to spend time outside your room? Your generation confuses me.”

But in the way I see so many articles trying to figure us out. “What does the Gen Z shopper really want?” “Gen Z is the future but they don’t know it.” “What is the role of Gen Z on Twitter?”

When I google ‘Gen Z and jobs’ (with the vague hope that I’ll find one), I get way more search results on workplaces trying to break down the behaviour and utility of my generation, without containing anything remotely useful for the Gen Z reader. Professionals are obviously way more concerned about everyone understanding Gen Z but not actually talking to us about it? Or doing anything to give us a fair shot at your jobs? And maybe realising that we’re born as social media strategy hounds, so you’re really wasting your time trying to train millennials, who you shouldn’t be giving entry-level jobs anyway?

I’ve said a lot, but I think it needs to be said. The world’s obsession with us needs to start working in our favour too. And for anyone looking, you can start by giving me a damn job.