4 Things Gen Z wants from their next job

Gen Z has entered the chat.

Editor’s note: As the largest early talent network, Handshake supports a community of 9+ million active students and young alumni. In this blog, we’re featuring a student’s perspective, written by that student herself.

Working as an intern at Handshake means that I’m often asked to fill in the gaps about things that a “young person” would know. Like what someone my age would find engaging in content, what features have that desired aesthetic, and what the common struggles of trying to find a job are. Sometimes I have the answers and other times I don’t. I can’t say that I’m qualified to speak for everyone under the age of 25 at all times—Gen Z.

But what I can do is provide insight based on my observations in my role as a marketing content intern. Every work day I’m interviewing students from all over the country who have different majors, backgrounds, passions, and things that they want out of their career. In their complexities I’ve come to observe the little nuances that motivate us as a generation.

As graduation began to creep up on me last year and adulthood beckoned, I began to dream of a job that would allow me to leave a unique impact on the world while also ensuring that I’d be able to exist without constant terror of my future financials. 

I didn’t want to be just another person behind a computer or a social media poltergeist. I wanted to do relevant, meaningful work that would make a difference—no matter how cliché that phrasing might sound.

My generation is called Gen Z, those born at the tail end of the millennial spell with the eldest of us on the precipice of our mid-20s. 

You’ve most likely seen older Zs around your workspaces—the interns and new hires, born during the early stages of the internet and raised on the upswing of social media. Maybe we’re driving your rideshares to work or maybe we’re your morning barista heroes. We are future business owners, doctors, engineers, and writers, and according to the Department of Labor, Gen Z will make up 36% of the global workforce by next year.

And with this new wave entering the job market, new desires and ideal workplace standards will follow. Here are the four things Gen Z job-seekers are looking for—besides a living wage and cold brew on tap–in their own words:

1. How to guide young careers

“I would find a mentor. The people make the job easier to come to and also makes you passionate about it.”

Taylor Wong, University of San Diego

We’re wave-makers and we want to prove our worth, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want someone more experienced in the industry to show us the ropes and provide meaningful insights. Growth is a huge part of launching our careers and without the collaboration of others there would be less room for a holistic look at our industries.

2. Where Gen Zs want to work

“Definitely the area I like to stay in. I came to New York [for school], but the New England area—I definitely don’t want to travel too far away from that.”

Eva Barinelli, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Many are tailoring their search for jobs to specific cities where they want to work after graduation. No matter how big or small the city, the location of the job holds relevance in the search for that dream job. Whether we picture ourselves around home, loved ones or the next big thing, sites like Handshake make it easy for students and alumni alike to focus on one place.

3. Why communication is so empowering

“I definitely would look for a place that is very communicative with their employees. Very much open to feedback.”

Olivia Prescott, St. Olaf College

When you have a voice it can feel wholly empowering. Even more so, when input that you’ve been pushing for is actually acted upon, an incredible environment of collaboration can come to fruition for both individual employees and the organization as a whole. Complacency in the workplace has the opposite effect, especially for individualistic and opinionated Gen Z.

4. How to stay relevant to young talent

“I look for good company culture, so I can meet a few different things. I like smaller offices so you have more hands on work, and you can directly interact with your boss and supervisors. There’s a lot of interaction with like clients and other individuals.”

Christina Plakas, Hamilton College

As the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet, we want our workspaces to reflect the world that we live in. If we grind and devote ourselves to a company that outwardly champions causes of social relevance, there’s an expectation that they follow through on that mission.

It’s not the company that makes the people, it’s the people that make the company.

Attracting young talent because you embody an authentic, honest culture is a positive sign that your workplace is headed in the right direction. The future is going to be filled with us leading, learning, collaborating, and providing solutions together. As an extension of ourselves, we desire a space to grow and thrive our careers in.