Silicon Valley has been benefiting nicely from brainwashed young professionals flocking there to work for a while now.
That's about to change some.
Employer Shaming Is on the Rise
Let's begin with the recent employer shaming of Yelp. First, an ex-employee wrote an open letter to the CEO, detailing how her career dreams have been squashed due to long hours, unfulfilling work, and low wages. It was followed up by a second ex-employee from Yelp, also pointing out the harsh reality of trying to survive in Silicon Valley on miserable pay, while working for a company that didn't appreciate her efforts. Yelp isn't the only company dealing with negative employer branding. Uber, Thumbtack, and other hot startups have reputations for taking advantage of the endless supply of over-qualified, eager Millennials looking to work and live in Silicon Valley.
The Silicon Valley Dream Is Going to Get Even Tougher to Achieve
Then, this article came out revealing the new trend of Silicon Valley companies relocating their customer service centers to other parts of the country. The article has a distinctly accusatory tone towards Silicon Valley employers and their money-driven decisions to remove these jobs from the area. Why? These jobs are the coveted entry-level roles Millennials are hustling to land in an effort to realize their dreams of working for a high-profile startup in Silicon Valley. And that's where the problem lies....
Blame the Facebook Effect and FOMO
The highly publicized story of how Mark Zuckerberg built Facebook has influenced more than a few young professionals' thoughts around career success. The movie The Social Network shaped a mindset that the path to greatness involves moving to Silicon Valley, getting a job with a cool startup, and eventually earning a huge salary with so many stock options that you can do whatever you want for the rest of your career. The best and the brightest from top schools all across the country are migrating to Silicon Valley because they truly believe they are smarter and more talented than their peers, only to learn they are small fish in a big pond. They also have a huge case of FOMO (fear of missing out), having been conditioned to think the valley is the only place where these types of career dreams are realized.
"Dirt-Church Jobs" Are Nothing New
Forget the horror stories of low pay and terrible living arrangements, the cachet of saying you worked for a unicorn in Silicon Valley is still appealing to plenty of young professionals. We shouldn't be surprised. Honestly, every generation has been brainwashed as to what the path to career success looks like. Early in my career, these opportunities were referred to as "dirt-church jobs," i.e., positions that paid dirt and worked you six day per week. But on the seventh day, it was all OK because you got to go to church to brag about where you worked.
Plus, Helicopter Parenting Keeps the Dream Alive
Still, Silicon Valley has it especially good. That's because many Millennials have helicopter parents willing to support them while they spend time working in these dirt-church jobs. Viewing these positions as internships that will pay off later, parents are just trying to keep their kids' career dreams alive. I read somewhere that it's like staying in Disneyland: overpriced, but its appeal is so great, it will always be in demand.
That said, these young professionals are just going through the normal journey to finding career satisfaction. Here's why....
The Early Career Mistake Most People Make
When you graduate from school and head into the working world, your career dreams are big. You want to change the world and do great things. For most, it's because you want to be able to answer the question What do you do? in a way that impresses others. That's because what we do for work is tied tightly to our identity. As a career coach with 15 years experience coaching thousands of people, I can tell you the need for approval is why most people fail to achieve their professional potential.
When it comes to feeling truly fulfilled with your career, there's only one person you need to impress: yourself. However, when you're in your early 20s and a) need money, and b) care what people think about your success, you don't tend to have the proper mindset needed to make professional decisions that will help you create a career path that uniquely suits you. Instead, you move from job to job in an effort to look like you're "making it," all the while feeling dissatisfied, frustrated, and confused as to how you ended up so far away from your dreams. Eventually, you realize your dreams were wrong to begin with. Why? They were built around someone else's definition of success.
Here Comes the Millennial Career Revolution
I predict we'll soon see more than a few Millennials become anti-Silicon Valley. I also think they'll start to realize the power and potential they have to turn towns and cities all over this country into incredible places to live and work. I believe the crushing of their misguided Silicon Valley career dreams will motivate them to leverage the untapped potential of communities all over the U.S. They'll stop flocking to Silicon Valley, and instead, build business hubs across this nation that will give them and their peers more opportunities to choose from--and I'll be there cheering them every step of the way.