Life/Work Balance with a First Job. Too Much to Ask?
Last week I posted this on Facebook:
An entry level engineer just turned down our offer of employment. Not enough vacation time (10 days a year) for him and he “really likes to get out and do things”. I weep for the future.
To set the scene:
Last week a fresh-out-of-engineering school job applicant declined a job with my company. Anyone who has read this blog knows I’m here for the health insurance but it’s not a bad company. The company that I work for is a niche firm specializing in hydraulic and hydrologic computer modeling. I can make an educated guess that the compensation package offered to “Scott” (his real name), a recent graduate of the Univ. of State at City, included: salary of at least $50k, 10 days of paid personal leave, 10 paid holidays including St. Patrick’s day (which is dumb….should be the 18th for hangover care), birthday day off, employer paid health insurance, 401K, Roth IRA and probably other stuff but like I said, I’m here for the insurance.
My comment on Facebook reflected my opinion that the current generation of American 20- and early 30-somethings is looking for a work/life balance that prior generations had not thought of till later in life. In my opinion, they earned it. I think that we have a generation of “kids” who were given trophies for showing up. No winners. No losers. Just curry that self-esteem. I think they have been taught that they should have what they want when they want it and not let work get in the way.
I’m going to share some comments from Facebook and my thoughts on the repercussions of this generation’s decisions. I would also like to know what you, my brilliant readers think about this.
I had a few comments like the following:
“Ah, the Age of Entitlement. The saddest era ever.” and “He must have received a 10th place trophy as a kid. You can’t just give it to the team who wins.”
But for the most part, my friends supported “Scott’s” (I think, that’s his name) decision to look for a job that offered him the free time he wanted. There were also comments from people who live/work in Europe or work for European companies. That is a topic for another day. For the purposes of this post, we are discussing the United States in the here and now.
So, here are some of the comments from Facebook:
I guess I see it differently, I’d say good for him! He’s probably in his early 20s, why should he settle for employment that won’t leave him fully satisfied? Engineer jobs are aplenty and he has a good 40 years or so of work ahead of him. I recently turned down a job with a $23,000 pay raise for another job that gives me more time off and I still feel like it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.
If he can find an equally good job with better vacation, why not? Sounds like he is just taking advantage of a free market where he has options.
Oh you and I could have a long conversation about this I’m 26 and just resigned from a FT position, some of the reasoning behind it was how much time I was selling my life to work!
I say good for him too. I actually applaud him for not settling for something that doesn’t fit into the lifestyle that he wants for himself. Maybe he doesn’t measure his self worth by how much money he makes, but by his life experiences. He may not need “things” like the rest of us do. He may have impeccable work ethic. He may have already figured out how much money he needs to survive, support his lifestyle and what he’ll need to retire and when. If all of this is the case, we should all take a page from his book and maybe we’d all be happier and fulfilled.
I know the people who wrote these comments and I can comfortably say that almost all of them have taken on great mental, emotional and financial responsibilities for themselves, their families, and their country. And if they say, let the next generation or two take it easy, that is their prerogative.
My thoughts on the subject differ from theirs (as you knew they would).
Scooter Scott, I understand that you would like more time to “get out and do stuff” and that is your choice. I want you to understand a few things, though.
1. You still need to pay off your student loans. I know they are onerous. Actually they are outrageous but you signed the papers. When you default on loans, it costs the rest of us money.
2. If, after you have received your degree in history or Aztec studies or ecological poetry or water resources engineering, you don’t get that “meaningful” job with plenty of vacation time to hike things, don’t go live in a tent in a public square and compose rants on your IPad against the 1 percent. There are plenty of 1 percenters who worked their asses off to get where they are.
3. I don’t want to pay for your insurance. If you drive a car, can’t afford insurance and get into an accident OR blow your knee snowboarding without any health coverage; my insurance premiums go up.
4. If somewhere 10-15 years down the line, you change your mind and decide you do want to buy a house instead of renting but can’t qualify for a mortgage because you don’t make enough money or your credit score is inadequate; don’t complain that it’s not fair and demand that mortgages be easier to obtain. Subprimes are no one’s friends.
Scott (if that is your real name), I understand that you want to have more time to enjoy life. Don’t we all? Go! Go Carpe Diem, Carpe hard! I only ask that you realize that your decision comes with its own implications and you are not freed from society’s responsibilities simply because you want to get out and do stuff.
What say you?
Note: I have no idea what is wrong with the spacing on this post but I’m done fighting with it. Done, I tell you!