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The 'Pay Your Dues' Era Has Passed; Deal With It
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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As Millennials and twenty-somethings continue to "invade" the business environment, we have seen article after article, blog after blog, interview after interview, about how to deal with the "ME" Generation.

Generation Why Not. Generation Whine. The adoring list of nicknames continue.

This generation (disclaimer: we are a member of it) has come of age during the climax of a paradigm shift in business.

The "paying your dues" philosophy is quickly fading into the background. It was only a matter of time that the old adage would no longer be relevant. It was earlier in the previous decade that the average worker would stay at the same place for only six years. And in the advertising industry, the average is in hyper drive — in the agency world, it is not uncommon to see entry-level and middle-management employees skip out after only a mere two years on the job.

Paying your dues was the business world's means of hazing young professionals. We would get our feet in the door, get a low salary, and do whatever work no one else wanted to do.

And we would have been fine with it. Because in 5–7 years, we would be passing down work we didn't want to the next class of newbies.

But the world has changed. No longer do people see the incentive in sticking it out at a single organization anymore. There are many reasons for it, and far too many to go in detail in a single post. In general, businesses no longer reward loyalty, and people can find ways to move "up the ladder" quicker by switching employers.

And not to mention the volatility of AdLand. With many agencies adpoting a revolving-door style of hiring and firing when they lose and win accounts, how can ad folks start to show any kind of loyalty when they cannot be sure that their position is safe?

Yikes.

We are saying that the Me-first personality that many new professionals have cultivated is not simply an intrinsic trait. Our society warranted such attitudes to exist.

Our elders have obliged as well. See: Freelance environment. AdLand is now filled with art and copy-wielding mercenaries because many believe that they can only survive by doing things themselves, or agencies and businesses won't look at a professional over the age of 40.

Yes, those who have paid their dues, can't cash in.

Double yikes.

Next time you see a young professional scoffing at lame work, call them unthankful, or annoying.

But please don't say that they "have to pay their dues."


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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