I had yet another conversation today with a twenty-something who wants out.
John shared with me over lunch that his current gig isn't aligning with his deepest values or fulfilling his biggest wishes. There's a disconnect between what he does from 9 to 5 and what he does outside of those hours. And, like most people that I have this conversation with, he's thinking of moving over to the nonprofit sector in order to make his day mean more – both to him and to others.
At one point, he said to me, "I work in a cubicle. That thing just sucks the life out of me."
Have you ever met anyone who works in a cubicle and likes their job? If CoolPeopleCare ever rises to the ranks of needing office space and then desks for more than just me, our official corporate policy will be "No cubicles." Right behind "No working at places that don't have free wi-fi."
The other night, while hanging out with some neighborhood guys, someone brought up the idea of cubicle doors as a potential business venture. "How cool would it be to have saloon style swinging doors on your cube?" someone asked. "Or what about a door that looked like the door on a rocketship? Or a drawbridge?"
Essentially, someone wanted to market the idea of cubicle doors as a novelty item, in an attempt both to make money and offer the buyer some sort of reprieve from the work needing to get done inside said cubicle.
As I listened to John today, it's easy to see that cubicle doors aren't the thing missing from his workday (although I admit it would be sweet to come out of your cubicle through a mini revolving door). A cubicle door for John would be a pathetic band-aid for the larger cancer that is his dissatisfaction with what he does for a living compared with what he wants to do with his life.
More and more young people are finding that their four (or five, in some cases) in college did not adequately prepare them for their first four (or five) years out of it. While most college experiences allow someone to learn a lot about one subject and begin to develop a skill set that will get them a certain type of entry level job somewhere, many people find themselves at 26 asking the same questions they did at 18 and 22.
- What do I believe in?
- What are my values?
- What's important to me?
- What does my life mean?
- What's the point of all of this?
More and more folks in their twenties (and thirties and forties, for that matter) are looking around at their lives and wondering what happened. They're trying to make sense of their life and their commitments. They're trying to find out what matters.
And they want to save the world. And I firmly believe that this generation is motivated, curious, and willing enough to give it a shot.
As soon as they walk out of their cubicle, door or no door.