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Career Strategist Shares Why Millennials And Gen Z Have No Interest In Climbing The Corporate Ladder To Become Managers — 'A Glorified Unpaid Internship'

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It seems millennials and Gen Zers have no interest in reaching the top of the corporate ladder, and according to a career strategist, there is a simple solution as to why. In a TikTok video, Kyyah Abdul, a career strategist and influencer, broke down why the position of being a manager is wildly unappealing to adults in both generations, despite their desire to make more money in the workplace.

Abdul said that a management position is 'not worth the work you're doing.'

"Nobody wants to become a manager anymore, which I think is some version of nobody wants to work anymore," a content creator named Robyn Garrett claimed in a video. Her assertion prompted Abdul to respond and explain the exact reason why people are not striving to be managers anymore.

"It's a glorified unpaid internship. You get paid for your work, but the pay is not worth the work you're doing, which is why I equated it to an internship," Abdul said.

Using a presentation to explain her theory with pirate money — "doubloons" instead of dollars, Abdul explained that when you start in an entry-level position, employees are only making "half a doubloon" and are not doing that much work. Usually, because of that, people are striving to move up, expecting more work and a better way compared to an entry-level position.



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"So, you become manager," she continued. "And you realize, hold on, I only get a full doubloon despite doing three times the work I was previously doing as an associate."

Abdul claimed that during this time, employees typically "take it on the chin" and continue to do managerial work in the hopes that they'll be promoted to the next level where they can earn more money. "I'm going to continue to do this work because I know it's an internship opportunity to make it to the next level where I'm really going to start making the pirate's booty."

However, other people are also deciding it isn't worth it and would rather stay at the managerial level or go back to the entry-level position in hopes of getting more money. She also argued that the higher you climb on the corporate ladder, "the less you do," implying that there's less of a turnover rate at the senior level.

"The problem that we have right now is a lot of people who are millennials and Gen Z are stuck at this point," Abdul said, pointing to the manager position on her graph. "People at the director and executive level who happen to be boomers and Gen X are getting a lot of money for doing not so much work."

She claimed that boomers and Gen X in higher positions don't want to leave their jobs because of the money.

"These people don't want to leave because of how much money they're getting for very little work," Abdul said. "I personally believe there are people out there that want to be managers, and they want to progress up the ladder, but there's a standstill right here."

She explained that most employees, especially millennials and Gen Z who want to gain promotions, aren't able to move up the ladder because the people at the top aren't transitioning over to retirement. Because of that, many people have been in managerial positions for quite some time.

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career strategist explains why millenials and gen z have no interest in climbing the corporate ladderPhoto: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

"Younger people who are associates [are] seeing how burnt out they are at the manager level, not being able to progress. So these people are like heck no, I'm not going through what these people just went through."

It seems Abdul's observation might hold some weight.

In a survey of 1,000 full-time employees across the United States conducted by Entrepreneur, only 38% of workers said they were interested in becoming a people manager at their current company. On top of that, only 21% of workers strongly agree that they trust the leadership in their company, and the number has been on the decline since the pandemic.

Some other arguments made by young employees included a lack of trust in their manager's leadership, limited financial reward, and a focus on having a more positive work-life balance that doesn't happen for senior-level workers.

It's an interesting analysis, especially when considering that many people in corporate jobs, whether they are a millennial or Gen Zer, want to grow and move up in their role, but will easily refute that if a job position isn't serving them financially or even harming their overall well-being.

Through Abdul's assessment, it's clear that the corporate world needs to reevaluate how they are not only treating their employees but also bridging the gap between young people and the appeal to move up and gain success within their careers as many young adults are no longer attracted to managerial or senior-level positions, and are instead choosing to prioritize their own values.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.