Tag Archives: Social media

Generation (Hard) Y(akka)

7 Jul

When I applied for the overseas volunteering opportunity, I was struggling to find employment as a recent double-degree graduate. I completed my studies at the end of 2008. Just after the GFC unleashed itself on the world.

It’s tough being a Gen Y graduate. There are more university graduates in the jobmarket than ever before. Competition is fierce. It was particularly so after the GFC. No one was hiring.

An article written by a member of Gen Y, or, as I would call it, Gen Hard Yakka, struck me. I’ve reproduced some of it below:

Young people have simply never known what proper job security is. We are so acutely aware of how difficult it is to find a job that when we eventually get one, we work incredibly hard to protect it and remain wary of how fleeting it may be.

We entered the workforce when a job was a rare privilege.

Some of us work with the fear of being fired and accept that as legitimate because, well, that’s just the way things are these days. If you’re not the best at your job then employers are entitled to get someone who is.

This attitude shocks baby boomers who entered the workforce before unionism went out of fashion along with bell-bottomed jeans. To baby boomers, the casualisation of the workforce is a one-fingered salute to workers’ rights. To generation Y, it is an entirely acceptable and pragmatic reality of our uncertain financial times.

Influenced by an endless conveyor belt of strikes and memories of glorious unionists during the 1960s and ’70s, boomers have always believed their job is their right and no one would dare sack them for having a few off days and a sickie or two. They never experienced the distress of being a qualified, ambitious, industrious graduate desperately looking for a job in a threadbare market.

Generation Y aren’t just harder-working and more enjoyable to work with because they’re young and fresh. We have an appreciation for a job that our parents [baby boomers] simply don’t.”

I agree in large part with the above views. I hope this post didn’t come across as a huge whinge, especially as I feel very privileged to have steady and interesting employment right now.

I’m merely pointing out, as this young lady has, that a young university-educated person in Australia has a precarious short-term future.

University graduates in Vietnam have better prospects of gaining employment (corresponding to their profession) than in Australia. The competition is far too high in Australia.

However, new occupations are emerging, such as social media analysts and consultants, which did not exist 30 or even 10 years ago.

Hopefully, positions in the developing labour market will be filled with bright young minds which will bring about transformations of existing structures, systems and the status quo.

Humans in an ant heap

20 Jun

One of the main projects I was working on during my year volunteering was to build up the network of environmental clubs and movements around Vietnam together. This seemed like not too much of an ask considering that the Internet connection is faster there than in Australia.

Young Vietnamese are commonly on Facebook, Yahoo Messenger and on their mobile phones texting. I’m talking about young Vietnamese who are educated and have access to computers, not those who live in the rural regions.

So I thought that connecting the enviro clubs in the major cities was fairly easy if I set up some blogs, online forums, a central portal website and a Facebook page.


Face-to-face interaction is key to building up strong, active networks. Thus, the organisation arranged many workshops and a large forum with international NGO funding to gather forty key enviro youth from around Vietnam to network and share ideas.

Online communication can only supplement relationships which are grounded in face-to-face contact.

And so it is here in Australia as well. Meetings are important, and emails can assist to distribute meeting minutes. Email exchanges can’t replace physically meeting in the same room to thrash out ideas, discussions and make decisions together.

Tertiary education by distance is simply not the way to go. Getting the on-campus university experience is still the common and preferred manner of going about one’s tertiary education. By merely sitting amongst one’s contemporaries and mixing with other bright young minds is critical. It also involves debating, challenging each other, getting your ideas put to the test and testing others’.

Lectures, tutorials, group work.

All face-to-face interaction which is conducive to rigorous learning. We all know that there’s increasing use of online learning tools.

”But a few decades of high technology can’t trump millions of years of evolution,” Glaeser says. ”Our species learns primarily from the aural, visual and olfactory clues given off by our fellow humans. The internet is a wonderful tool, but it works best when combined with knowledge gained face to face, as the concentrations of internet entrepreneurs in Bangalore and Silicon Valley would attest.”

That was taken from an article written recently by an eminent Australian economist, Ross Gittins, who explores the allure of cities and how they make sense economically for many people. He reviews the urban economist, Edward Glaeser’s new book.

“”Cities enable collaboration, especially the joint production of knowledge that is mankind’s most important creation. Ideas flow readily from person to person in the dense corridors of Bangalore or London, and people are willing to put up with high urban prices just to be around talented people, some of whose knowledge will rub off.”

Cities magnify humanity’s strengths. Because humans learn so much from other humans, we learn more when there are more people around us. Urban density creates a constant flow of new information that comes from observing others’ successes and failures. Cities make it easier to watch, listen and learn.”

In Vietnam, the urban-rural divide is very clear and the wealth is ultra-concentrated in cities. Apart from the greater focus by governmental funds, foreign aid and commercial hubs, people live live like sardines side by side and top of each other. The dynamics and rapidity of the flows of information, business and trade is incredible.

The rural communities are literally left in the dust.

To add or not to add. The Facebook dilemma.

15 May

At the NGO I was volunteering for, three of my workmates were the exact same age as I. During work hours, they would often show each other the texts they’d received on their mobile phones and giggle, run around the office, and generally mix their professional and personal lives. I was rather bemused as they had all received university education and training, yet, their work ethic was foreign to me.

As I mused over this overlap of formal and informal business, I discovered friend requests from those workmates, as well as some other professionals I became acquainted with when I was networking.

My NGO ran workshops and forums for university students. I also received Facebook friend requests from some of those very students.

I did not know whether to accept their requests or not. I had, up until then, kept work separate from my personal life. I had to ask someone who would know what I was going through and provide some of their own insight.

I had befriended a local Vietnamese guy, who had studied in Australia for a period of time, and was heading his own NGO back in Vietnam. He and I got along as we had in common experiences in both Vietnamese and Australian society.

I sent an email to this friend, asking him for some advice as follows:

I wanted to ask your advice on something, and you’re probably the best person to ask. I am hesitant about adding people in Viet Nam on facebook, for example, people related to my work. This is because I want to appear professional, and my facebook is for friends. However, there is a blurry line as to who is related to work and to my social life. I added Jenny, but I feel uncomfortable that she may see my photos and maybe disapprove of what I do in my spare time. I don’t want to seem like a ‘party girl’ or a ‘bad girl’. I think because girls in Viet Nam don’t understand my background that much, then I think that they would judge me differently. Because my lifestyle is quite different from others’ here. I live differently from them while in Viet Nam and also in Australia.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’m making sense. But do you think I should add them on facebook? And if I don’t, then do you think they will be offended?

I would really appreciate your thoughts.”

His response was:

Regarding the facebook thing ,it is a fine line between work and social life in Vietnam (as you can see from your organisation or mine). Ppl feel much more comfortable to work with each other when they know the person well. The weird thing in Vietnam is that it is ok for you to be “party girl” if you are a foreingner 😕 . My advice will be ” be an Vietnamese Aussie with a deep understanding of Vietnamese culture”, that is your advantage for both of your social and work life.

Dont worry too much, young ppl nowadays are open but choose the person to share your facebook and add the ppl who you know only. For example , I even added my sister’s friends and now they think that I am a cool brother after seeing all my dancing performance :D.

I think that you just do it when you feel comfortable and trust the person otherwise just ignore them, it will be fine.

I found his advice sound and useful. Moreover, the way he characterised me went to the heart of my own questions about my identity.

In Australia, my mum and everyone in the Vietnamese community (of which I’m part of) call each other ‘Vietnamese’. And yet, when I go to Vietnam, they call me ‘Australian’ or ‘Viet kieu‘. So in Australia, I’m Vietnamese. And in Vietnam, I’m Australian.

I’ve tried to reconcile this by telling myself that I grew up in a family with ‘Vietnamese’ values, and within a society with ‘Australian’ values. And yet, that still didn’t resolve the identity issues I faced whilst in Vietnam. To make my situation more complicated, when I visited some distant relatives in regional northern Vietnam, they spoke about myself and them being intimately connected by blood. That they and I were so close and we should support each other. So whilst I thought I was distant and different, they considered me close. So when my friend wrote that I should see myself as a “Vietnamese Aussie with a deep understanding of Vietnamese culture”, that made sense to me. It still doesn’t resolve how I see myself and my connection to those distant relatives though. My journey of understanding myself and my identity continues then.

Questions of identity are so cliched, yet, they are crucial. I read a quote saying something along the lines of:

“How pitiful the man who does not know himself”.

Indeed. Indeed.

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