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‘Gen Z breaking the mold’: Ambitious but unwilling to conform to corporate culture

Generation Z (Gen Z) has always been painted as lazy or lacking the drive to succeed in their chosen field. Because people see this generation come up with oftentimes ridiculous trends, such as wanting to quit jobs just to become a “Disney princess,” it becomes easy to believe that this generation is not ambitious.

Well, that’s simply not true.

Let’s take these factors into perspective: Gen Zs (those born 1997-2012), are in their teens to early 20s right now, and is the first batch to undergo the K-12 education system in the country, with the first batch of Senior High School students graduating last year.

This is also the generation that spent a major time of their education online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention, the same generation that’s struggling to look for jobs amidst the economic decline brought about by constant lockdowns and restrictions caused by the pandemic.

To call this generation unambitious is simply unjust, considering the 2 years of education that had to be added to their curriculum, and their struggles to graduate, just to end up with a job that, well… doesn’t really pay that much.

It’s not that Generation Z is lazy, or lacks the drive, it’s just that their ambition and their way of pursuing their goal is a tad bit different than what other generations have previously laid out for themselves–with some achieving success by burning themselves out just to climb the corporate ladder.


We’ve asked POP! readers from the Gen Z segment their opinion on the matter, and here is what they have to say:

On climbing the corporate ladder

Gen Z doesn’t have a problem when it comes to working hard and climbing the corporate ladder, but that doesn’t mean they will conform to climbing it.

Working student Sheina Conales says that she doesn’t see anything wrong with trying to progress in the antiquated corporate ladder but believes that Gen Z’s demand for a better work system is reasonable.

“Gen Z wants to avoid the toxic culture of hustling on asking for what they rightly deserve in the first place,” she said. “Which is what employers be ensuring in the first place.”

Like Conales, UP-Diliman student Maria Geronimo shared that employers have unrealistic job expectations from their applicants just to pay them the bare minimum wage.

“Who wants to be a corporate slave and have the same schedule and endure commuting hell for how many years before you become ‘stable’?” she said.

In a survey by employer branding agency Universum, Filipino Gen Z job seekers are expecting a monthly salary of P31,000, almost double the Philippines’ current minimum monthly wage of approximately P15,000 to P18,000.

With that, Diane Zaide, who is working in Digital Marketing, shared that it’s all about practicality.

According to her, there is nothing wrong with climbing the corporate ladder but states that is hard enough to survive in today’s life with the minimum wage and all the inflation to just conform to it.

“Our generation will always find jobs that have a higher salary and will find other sources of income [aside from their day job] to sustain their needs,” she said.

According to the results of the Deloitte 2023 Millennial and Gen Z survey, 65% of Gen Z are taking additional side jobs with the reason of needing a secondary source of income and believing that their side job will help them develop important skills and relationships.

The survey also shows that 59% of Gen Z are living paycheck to paycheck and are worried that they won’t be able to cover their monthly expenses.

On being ambitious

Going back to the matter of Gen Z not being ambitious, well… in fact, they are, just in a different way.

Geronimo said that Gen Z is just misunderstood, “I think it’s not about being lazy, the youth is just being enlightened now that blindly following the capitalists is not the right way to live their lives,” she said when asked about Gen Z being lazy and unambitious. “Why slave away when you can do it your way?”

Other Gen Z like Jane Villalon, who is working in Finance, shared that Gen Z is ambitious but like Geronimo, she wouldn’t want to waste her life hustling just to be drained in the end.

“For me, being ambitious [to achieve something outside your day job] will bring better results than experiencing a long route to succeed only to end up not being 100% sure if you’ll actually progress,” she said. “It’s exhausting and, in the end, you’ll just think about how much labor you’ve done, and not your success.”

Villalon also shared how Gen Zs ambition let them know the limit to their capability, including their wits and guts to do something outside the norms, to which Zaide agreed.

“Being ambitious helped pushed this generation to break the norms because we know it works, and we are proving that our generation deserves what we’re demanding,” Zaide said.


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