For this month’s “What I Know” column, we asked WTHR meteorologist Chuck Lofton for his life wisdom, and after almost 28 years with the same TV station, he’s accumulated quite a bit. That kind of workplace longevity, though, is becoming rarer than a full 401(k) match. I recently read a study alleging that “Millennials”—those 30 and younger, otherwise known as Generation Y—change jobs every two years on average. I keep cheap pens longer.
The study’s spokesman called Gen Y not fickle but “entrepreneurial,” a group that “prefers freedom and flexibility.” The report further concluded that Baby Boomers average only seven years on the job, but I beg to differ. The post–WWII generation instead seems to be the last bucking the short-tenure trend, at least anecdotally. My mother just hit 35 years at the same hospital pharmacy, and Dad has worked at his NBC affiliate for 37 years. Our own columnist and editorial director, Deborah Paul, has been with Emmis 24 years, and with IM seven before that.
For a long time, I thought that’s just the way careers worked: You start somewhere and work your way up that specific ladder. Now I know better (and realize that with downsizing and layoffs, tenure is sometimes out of your control). Job-hopping can be liberating, sure, and broadens skill sets. But building a history with a company rings up its own payoffs.
I often spend as much time with my staff here on Monument Circle as I do with my husband, and I know I’m not the only one. But if we’re lucky, the people we share office space with can evolve into a cherished family, too. When my grandfather died last year, my parents’ co-workers—people who knew me in kindergarten, sent checks at my graduations, attended my wedding—also came to the funeral to comfort us. That isn’t the kind of benefit that shows up in LinkedIn posts.
There’s nothing wrong, of course, with reinventing yourself or following your dreams to a new venture, and we highlight two people doing just that in this issue as well: governor-elect Mike Pence and newly minted Purdue president Mitch Daniels (p. 56 in the print issue). They both know a thing or two about seizing opportunities too good to turn down—no matter when in life those chances happen to appear.
Amanda Heckert is the editor of Indianapolis Monthly. See her bio here.
This column appeared in the January 2013 issue.