The Gen Z invasion is underway. They're hot on the heels of Millennials, showing up on college quads just a few years ago and now, corporate America.
Gen Z goes by a few names: iGen, Net Gen and the less creative "post-Millennials." Members are usually called Gen Zers. Researchers differ by a year or two on the beginning — 1995-1997 — and the cutoff year — 2010-2014.
There are a lot of Gen Zers in the U.S. — about 65 million. That means they'll soon outnumber Millennials. A few things you need to know:
First, the obvious technology. Gen X grew up as computers got smaller and smarter. Millennials came of age during the internet explosion.
So what’s unique about Gen Zers? Their world’s always been high-tech. The iPhone launched in 2007, so music catalogs were always accessible on your phone, and high-speed internet meant never knowing that sweet, squiggly sound before the big payoff. Millennials adapted to social media and constant connectivity; it was simply part of Gen Zers' world from day one. True digital natives. But the distinctions are bigger than tech.
Many Gen Zers saw relatives lose jobs and struggle during the Great Recession, experts say.
So today's students tend to be keenly focused on financial stability and career planning. Once in the workplace, company culture and a balance between career and personal lives is important. Numerous internships during college are now common — Gen Zers are looking for the right fit.
Politics provides a backdrop for every generation. The contrast between George W. Bush and Barack Obama framed the political debate for Millennials. Donald Trump is the first president many Gen Zers are aware of.
Researchers Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace looked at all of these factors and more for a book titled "Generation Z Goes To College." Here are some of their findings:
Their social circles are diverse.
They lean left on social issues, center to right on financial issues.
To learn something new, they "YouTube it," before they "Google it."
They prefer individual work over group work.
They prefer to share on Instagram and follow on Facebook and Twitter.
Gen Z is also conscientious and socially engaged.
You're always going to find outliers in these categories, but the takeaways seem to be the next generation is future-focused, ready to work, careful with money and oh-so-tech savvy.