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While the life-long job may no longer exist, many members of Generation Z are looking for career stability – some are even optimistic they can find it. Salvatore Porporino recently started a contract position at a large pharmaceutical company in Montreal, but the 22-year-old says he says he’d prefer to have a long-term position. He’s at the older end of his generation, which include those born in the mid-late 1990s and up to the early 2010s. “You’re not focusing on what’s going to happen after,” he says. It would mean not having to ask questions such as, “do I have to look for a job as I’m working right now?”

In a survey conducted earlier this year by The Globe and Mail and youth-marketing agency Yconic, 886 Canadian Grade 12 students were polled to get their opinions on the state of the world today.

Over two-thirds of respondents said they were either somewhat worried or very worried about making enough money to support themselves. A similar number felt overwhelmed by everything they needed to do in a week. Almost half said that stress made it hard to sleep through the night.

Is there going to be something after (my contract is) done? Am I going to be waiting? Am I going to be unemployed for a while? Am I going to have to continue school?

“I was really worried,” says Porporino, who graduated last spring. “Is there going to be something after [my contract is] done? Am I going to be waiting? Am I going to be unemployed for a while? Am I going to have to continue school?”

Nowadays, he says, a bachelor’s degree has become the new high school diploma, and for people graduating from university, the labour market can be tight. Even high school students are feeling the pressure to be more competitive. Maria Herrera, a grade 11 student in Winnipeg, started at a new high school this fall, one that will give her a business diploma – along with a regular high school diploma – when she graduates. “I know that post-secondary is going to be a lot different than high school but I am already learning a lot of new concepts that I hope will get me ahead of the game,” she says. Herrera, who wants to go into human resources, is optimistic about her career prospects. She also knows she might have to move around a few times, but ultimately hopes her hard work will pay off and give her an edge when she eventually joins the labour force. “I hope that if I find a really good job that I enjoy, that I’ll be able to stay there but I’m not heart-set on anything. I guess you could say I’m willing to take some chances and see where everything takes me,” she says. One direction some in Gen Z are eyeing is working for a startup; a smaller firm can mean opportunities to take on bigger challenges and fast growth, hopefully, can lead to long-term job opportunities. Andrea Diaz is currently in her final year of a BSc in psychology at the University of Toronto, and she also works part time at Toronto-based startup ChangeJar.

It’s a job she hopes to keep after she graduates, and one that she thinks will help her career trajectory in the long-run. “I’ve gathered a huge amount of experience that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise,” she says. “I’d like to think that that is something that would put me ahead of the competition and would make it less difficult to find a job.” Diaz says she wants to spend a few years in the workforce before returning to school to do a master’s in positive psychology and, eventually, an MBA. And like Gen Y before her, she doesn’t believe she’ll spend her whole career at a single company. “I expect that my interests will change and I expect that my skill-set will change. I don’t expect I’ll be working at the same company for 40 years,” she says.

The same reasoning has also led Porporino find a silver lining at his contract job, which he says, “provides an opportunity of challenge” because it’s not permanent.

“You’re not set in one place; there’s always room to grow or room to change, do something different, go somewhere else,” he says.

But Diaz concedes that if she does move around, she hopes it will be of her own volition and because of new opportunities.

“I’d like to think that the places where I’d like to work wouldn’t be places that would lay people off because of economic circumstances,” she says.

This article originally appeared in the Globe & Mail in October 2016.

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