Jesse Medalia-Strauss: A Gen Z Perspective on Careers and Employment

The ways in which people communicate have altered drastically since the birth of the Internet. Likewise, there has been a significant shift in work/career culture. Analysts say that Generation Z trends are heavily focused on betapreneurship and freelance work for a multitude of clients. Members of Gen Z expect flexibility, and work that molds to their lifestyle — not the other way around. Gone are the days of the twenty year stints of a 9-5 job with one employer.

Jesse Medalia-Strauss, a member of Generation Z and student at the American University, talks about his career aspirations and expectations.

Tell me about your internship at the Science Friday Initiative (SFI). How many hours a week do you work? What kind of projects do you do? Has this experience influenced your career expectations or goals?

My experiences at SFI were life changing. I worked from 10 to 5, five days a week and got a wonderful amount of creative control over my projects. I got to go to events all around the city and meet so many interesting people and I got to bring a friend or two along. SFI has influenced where I want to go in a career in two ways. The first is I know I want to do documentaries and investigative journalism and the second, I want to work for a nonprofit or agency that reflects my beliefs and do good work. Your job means nothing unless you are making a positive impact.

You’ll be graduating in just two years. Do you have a specific job in mind?

Hopefully I will get a job doing communications for a campaign or organization. I would love to make my own independent documentaries.

Do you think graduate school will be necessary at some point, or do you believe work experience to be more beneficial?

I am actually going to try to do a fast track program and get a masters in Political Communications by staying at American University an extra year.

What kind of work environment do you look for? For instance, do you want flexible hours or the ability to work at home? How many hours per week do you envision working?

I want to be able to run around the city filming, taking pictures and meeting interesting people while getting paid.

Do you expect to work for one employer for a long time, or do you see yourself more as a freelancer who works projects or gigs for a variety of companies?

I see at first a freelancer who works on many projects but if I get really embedded with a particular organization I believe in, that would not be bad either.

Are there any companies for whom you would especially like to work? Who and why....

SFI:  I love all the people there and it would be great to do content for the show.

PBS:  Directing a Frontline episode would be a dream come true.

NPR: They need web videos.

DNC or DNC candidate: Would get my foot in the political door.

MoveOn.org: Great liberal organization that produces funny and insightful videos.

Do you see yourself owning your own company some day? If so, tell me a bit about your vision for that.

I see myself directing and producing documentaries and narratives for social change. Possibly running for Congress one day.

Do you use social media outlets to increase your professional network? How helpful has this been (or how helpful do you expect it to be)?

I absolutely do. I often use my linkedin, facebook or vimeo profiles to show people examples of my work and to tell them about myself.

You started college just as the global financial crisis hit. Has this influenced your outlook on potential jobs/careers?

Yes it did indeed. The financial crisis made me realize that I do not want to work in the private sector. I would be much happier making money while doing good than just making money for the sake of money. I would prefer to work for myself, a non-profit, or the government.

What benefits (if any), do you consider essential? For instance, your generation isn’t likely to be able to rely on Social Security checks or company pensions. When you research potential employers, do you look at things employer contributions to a 401k? Or will you simply make plans for your long-term future on your own?

I am prepared to make long terms plans on my own. Healthcare is the essential benefit.

As a native New Yorker, can you imagine living/working anywhere else? If so, what cities would you consider moving to for a job?

The only way I would move from New York is if I get 270 electoral votes and then it would only be for four to eight years.