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Success & Gen Z

The future of Gen Z will look like...

Focus on
true happiness
Make a name for themselves
Unconventional career paths
Creating real change

In order to understand how they got here we need to look at what has traditionally defined success: 

Owning a home
Starting a family
Having a collectivist mindset 
Obtaining a stable job
Being in a corporate position 
Having a large income 
Achieving educational attainment

We can't fully understand gen z without looking at those that have come before 

But what comes to mind when we think of Gen Z?

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Overall it's been a pretty streamlined process that we're expected to achieve by a certain age

  • Goal-oriented
  • Motivated by promotions, professional development
  • Like having their expertise valued and acknowledge
  • Known for their rational mindset
Gen X
  • Pioneers of work-life balance
  • Independent and entrepreneurial
  • Highest percentage of startup founders at 55%
  • Emotional and rational mindset when it comes to making career decisions
  • Still care about economic and career stability
  • Looking for a work/life balance  
Gen Z
  • Emotional mindset, they are aspirational and passionate
  • Their career paths are a way to make, not just economical, but social change
  • They are creative, digital natives that are shaking things up
Taking a look at the memes below, we can see some typical stereotypes of how we've labeled this new generation

WE took a deep dive into this generation through...

Reddit Poll: How do your views on being successful differ from other generations?

"For me success is just not having to worry about my future and being content generally" 

"You feel proud of what you have done, no matter what it was."

"Being fulfilled. I don’t equate money with success. Just enough money so that I’m comfortable."

COVID's impact on their view of success: 

"My generation will have to contend with economic uncertainty, potentially diminished educational quality and their effects on our mental well-being. Consequently, the coming years will be crucial in answering the question: Just how resilient are we?


We looked at where this generation are living online and did some social listening and dug deeper into who this group is. 


We also conducted an online poll to see how Gen Z Reddit users look at their own success and futures moving forward.

multiple interviews with career path professionals 
Talked with Gen Zers, of course! 

Did some online listening: 


  • Reddit

Read a ton of Gen Z reports


Binged on Netflix:

  • Social Dilemma

  • Instafamous


We wanted to get an outside perspective on how they view this generation and how it differs from how they grew up.


We interviewed a VCU career path advisor, as well as a college professor both of whom work with Gen Zers on a day-to-day basis. 

"I see a lot more compassion and empathy than I did in Millennials. This generation has gone through some experiences that only very old generations have. The world was dandy and rosy for a long time and now all of these things are happening."

Dr. Maria Cuevas, Biology Professor at Southwestern University

"This generation relies heavily on everything being accessible, they don’t have to do much to get the job they want. But they are a generation of entrepreneurs and they're the ones that will make something out nothing."

Monique Sample, Career Service Advisor at VCU


We interviewed seven Gen Zers and got to hear what success looks like to them directly. They provided a unique first-hand perspective into their view of success and how they perceive thier world.

"Success is anytime you achieve something you want to you do. I think I feel successful when I do the things I want."

Julia, 22 

"I want to be someone who my friends and family are proud of, but I also want to be proud about what I do and how I can contribute to a better world."

Elle, 13

"Looking for a place where I can be appreciated, as well as a place where I can constantly learn and teach others."

Andrew, 23

"I’m really looking for a company where I can feel comfortable. I think a sense of community is key towards my best work."

Rebecca, 21


Gen Zers are very entrepreneurial and creative thinkers, and seem to have it innately.  They are hyper-connected and highly opinionated.


They love understanding how ideas are born and want to be part of a creative process. There's this call back to a "Renaissance Style" where they are having many interests, talents and areas of knowledge where diversity and inclusion are part of their daily lives. 


Want to start their own business


Are freelancers 


Say they are always striving to achieve more in life and develop new skills 


Social media has its benefits, but in the long run, it feeds into human psychology and gets us hooked.


While 56% respondents use social apps to express themselves creatively, only one-fifth say they are using social media to develop or create their brand.

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Gen z is a generation too big to be ignored 

Gen Z will soon surpass Millennials as the most populous generation on Earth taking up more than one-third of the world’s population


Its members are on the verge of entering the workforce and spending money on the products, services and solutions


By 2025 Gen Zers will make up 75% of the workforce

But what does success really look  like to Gen Z? 

They are using the tools at their disposal to achieve their goals 


The core of what success is hasn't changed, but gen z has changed the how 

Highly educated but open-minded
Gen Z will be one of the most educated generations, but they are open to alternative, creative routes to achieve their goals 
Turning passions into careers
Gen Z uses their full-time job to finance their real interest 
Starting their career search early on 
Thinking about their career early on and wanting to retire younger
Using social as a tool and career finder 
Looking to people on social has expanded their view on careers and success 
Love seeing how an idea is born and being part of the creative process
Have creative hobbies off the web and online 
Believe that creativity isn't siloed but multi-channeled

Hardwired for a DIY mentality and known for creation

"if they can do it,

we can too"

Seeing their parents and older siblings go through a recession, financial security is of extra value to them.

“IMO we may survive the virus, but we will emerge from it in a second Great Depression, perhaps even worse than the first”

 - Anonymous Gen Z Reddit User 

Using their powers for good, not evil 

While Gen Z are technology natives and cool content creators, they are well aware they also have the power to change the world.

For instance…53% to 55% of registered 18 to 29-year-olds appear to have voted in the 2020 election. That may be the highest ever recorded in the modern era of politics.

the real "greatest generation" 

Gen Z possesses a "change the world" complex. They feel like older generations have failed them and they need to clean up the mess.

"Generation Z is one of the greatest generations ever that this world has seen. We are not afraid to talk about the problems that have existed for decades, and that everyone was scared to talk about. Our generation DOES NOT accept racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamaphobic, wars, murders, etc.”

- Anonymous Gen Z Reddit User 

while it seems like they are wanting to move fast, having a "young" identity is important 

“M(22) am I too old to party? I feel fucking old and terrified of turning 30.”
- Anonymous Gen Z Reddit User 
“I turned 20 recently. Have been having coming to grips with reality, my freedom”
- Anonymous Gen Z Reddit User 
"Everyone likes dunking on Gen Z, but as someone who borders the line of Gen Z and Millennial, Gen Z is wayyyy better.”
- Anonymous Gen Z Reddit User 


Nana Dadzie: Strategist
Charlotte Robins: Strategist
Lucy Mungo: Strategist
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