The Lost Generation

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    The Lost Generation, Business Week, November:

    A great article from Business Week I mentioned in another thread last week about the long term affects of high unemployment rates in young professionals on a nation.

    The article also brings up some other great points about the professional generation gap and building angst between senior and junior staff in trying economic times.

    Personally, I believe there is a disconnect between the respective realities of the senior level and junior generations. The former tends to think the latter is whiney, lazy, and over-medicated, evidently. And the younger generation blames the older for stymied professional development and shutting the door on new graduates with little or no experience in lieu of the obvious economic advantage of ‘under-employing’ more experienced and equally desparate mid-level staff.

    Do you think there is a generational disconnect? What are the potential affects of excluding a new generation of professionals as the article alludes to?

    Have we seen this before?

    Brent Jacobsen

    Thanks for posting the article Nick – I can say that a number of my fellow recent graduates are beginning to be very disheartened by the economic downturn and what appears to be a lack of viable opportunities to enter the profession in the near, and potentially, long future. It has led some of them to reconsider whether they want to continue in landscape architecture at all, which would be a big loss of talent for the field.

    Admittedly, this is the first real tough economic patch for most recent graduates (20’s or 30’s), so some of their concerns are a bit shortsided and lack the knowledge from experience that all professions go through economic cycles. And, some of them are being unrealistic about what their first job will really be like. Some expect to be a lead designer on day one without paying some dues or gaining enough experience out of school to appropriately handle the complexities of a real project.

    That being said, there are also problems with mentoring in many firms – I think a gap does exist between the apprenticeship model many senior LA’s grew up in versus the more integrated team concept most younger LA’s imagine participating in at a firm. Right or wrong, many younger staff don’t want to pay dues and learn from more experienced professionals, and many senior staff don’t really mentor or integrate younger staff into all the phases of a firms work, leaving younger staff feeling pigeon-holed and stifled. Both are huge generalizations of course, but I think that apparent generational gap is a compounding problem in a tough economy for new LA’s struggling to enter the profession.

    Will be interested to hear others opinions on that matter – especially as to whether this is something unique to our times.


    One point I can respond to real quick..

    If you look at many of the ‘entry level’ job listings poppining up sporadically. They’re typically advertised in their title as ‘entry or junior’ level or something like ‘cad position,’ but surprisingly few of them are actually zero experience jobs. Often they require more like 3+ years experience.

    Personally, I feel qualified to apply (even with near zero response) because I’ve had some internship and prior experience, but I can see the frustration of someone with literally zero experience outside their degree program.

    My comments leave a lot to interpretation because I dont have much time, but what I’m getting at is a point someone made in another post earlier last week regarding the willingness of an office to teach/train. Otherwise I agree that a business has to do what is naturally fiscally appropriate.


    I was speaking with my 68 year old father the other day on the phone. He admitted he’s never seen it this bad, regarding the job market, economy, debt, etc. Even if the numbers dont stack up, I wonder if the formula doesn’t make the situation worse than twenty forty years ago?

    Trace One

    ‘mentoring model” ? when was that happening? I entered the job market with an MLA in 1987, and the LA business sucked then, the economy was in the tank, and if it sucks now, it is just a function of this type of job..If you are a nurse or a doctor you are doing fine..I never experienced any ‘mentoring model’ it has always been group think and groups as the model for all jobs in LA..I see the foreign market as really hot right now, which it was NOT in 1987…Dubai, China, are equal to the opportunities for LA’s in the sixties, with the Shah of Iran, etc..
    We are not in a high-demand profession – my sister the doctor is in demand every second of her day..her knowledge is essential..sometimes, like right now, I think our profession is just chopped liver..

    Trace One

    I do not see a generation gap, also, except with the thumbs on the texting..I can’t do that..other than that, I so welcome the young, so enjoy their energy..just DON’T call them YOUNG – they HATE that!! hee hee


    I definitely see a gap.

    I think there are numerous differences in the way many junior level designers view and approach the practice, especially with regard to the advent and evolution of new technology.

    Chris Whitted

    Yes, I think in some cases there is a generational disconnect. As far as seeing it before, the article mentions Japanese business culture already, but that’s where I first saw the issue explored in depth a couple of years ago. I’m pretty sure it’s been covered in the context of former Soviet block and some other countries that have long, rich cultural heritages conflicting with modern business and development.

    I’ll play devil’s advocate for one of Andrew’s points, in that innovators are likely the ones to be hired right now. The status quo isn’t moving or making money; it’s still drying up and collapsing. Finding new niches and business opportunities is what (I think) would get you hired right now, but only if there’s some proof to back it up. I do think Andrew is right in many respects about the risk issue. This is something I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought lately.

    I’ll also agree with the mentoring gap Brent mentions, in general terms. I’ve had a few interviews where I’ve specifically asked about that only to later find the promises empty, my expectations too high, or (I’ll freely admit) my own willingness to put forth effort insufficient to get what I wanted. Trace’s comment rings true for me in that there’s this ideal image of mentoring I always heard about but never experienced. Hindsight tells me I actually got some quality mentoring that didn’t seem like as much at the time.

    Jim Del Carpio

    I haven’t read the article but I like to add my 2c. First, it’s too easy in these trying times, to put the blame on factors beyond our control. However, we can control our perception of what is really happening by not over-generalizing and labeling people or circumstances. And I think your questions or the B.W. questions are doing just that, it feeds into mass consumption that the problems as a whole are out-there not in-here, where I and you can take responsibility. Some Food for thought!!! Ok, there is one more thing, the older generation did not grow up with the Digital information age. So, when they see us(X or Y gen) on the computer they may have little idea what is truly going on behind the monitor. So, some may just see the end product and they may like it or not, but and this is my point, lets not fall into the trap that they don’t get “it.” The idea that we are not in the same process(design) they were when they were in the similar position 20 or thirty years before.

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