Welcome to the latest episode of ‘How Gen Zs are rebelling against the status quo’: the Careers Edition.
Yup, ‘Generation self-aware’ can officially add rewriting the rules of what you’re supposed to do after school to their long list of flexes, which include taking mental wellbeing mainstream, demanding holistic sexual consent education be implemented in the national school’s curriculum, and being the driving force behind the global shift to a more cruelty-free world.
Of the thousands of young Aussies we surveyed for our After the ATAR III report, many admitted to going against the grain in taking gap years despite the risk of unemployability, admitted to switching careers or degrees, sometimes several times, or just taking a break from studies to regroup if they’re not ‘feeling it’.
Take this 18-year-old male from Victoria who told us how he headed off on a gap year to experience personal growth despite the awareness that some employers aren’t the biggest fans of seeing gaps on resumes.
“(I’m on a gap year) to try and explore what life is about, do as much random crap as I can to try and work out a little about who I am and how I can do something meaningful,” he said.
“The only thing that’s really holding me back is that, (as it) turns out, employers don’t love it if you leave the country for a month or so at a time. But hey that’s part of it I guess.”
Meanwhile a 22-year-old male from Victoria told us how he was deeply invested in his art studies until he was required to drop a subject he loved in order to complete a required core subject, and as a result, he dropped out from uni.
“At this point in my life I was confident in my abilities as an artist,” he said.
“University wasn’t working for me and my permanent part-time position at Woolworths was holding me back in my devoted hours. So I left my job, and soon after deferred from university.
“I am now wildly chasing a career as a content creator, and a freelance artist – I am not secure financially (and I am scared as hell) but I am happy and fulfilled and empowered by this decision. I am finally excited about the future.”
An 18-year-old male from Western Australia also changed his major several times to make sure he was following the right path.
“I have changed course twice,” he said.
“I know I won’t be successful if I’m not interested in what I’m actually doing. I’m worried about getting a qualification and not liking the job or not having worked for the job.”
A 17-year-old male from Victoria rejected calls to study straight after graduating in favour of “working full time in a shitty job until I decide what career path I want to take”.
“Right now I’m finding out what my passions are and how I can pursue a career based around my passion and future lifestyle,” he said.
“I want to experience life as much as I can so traveling and being able to work while I’m enjoying myself and gaining more experience would be perfect.”
And while this 19-year-old male from the ACT initially succumbed to the pressure of heading straight from school to the workforce, he eventually put his foot down.
“I’m currently working on changing over from what I thought was my dream career to something I’ve been doing for a while but was too afraid to call my dream career,” he said.
“I waited so long because I grew up hearing from people I had to go straight into the workforce so I chose a path I knew would get me a job, but I hate it.
“(Now) I’m excited for the future of my career path and I hope it involves innovation, entrepreneurship and environmental science and positive impact practices.”
So Gen Z, what’ll be your next flex?