Scott knows he might sound like an entitled ingrate who thinks he knows it all after working in Washington for a couple of years. But he says he's driven by a compulsion to point out problems with the hope of fixing them: "I don't want to see a massive exodus of my generation from government."
Yet Scott might be the first to leave. Though he could have good career prospects in the federal government, he's not sure how long he can tolerate the culture.
He knows he has options--the sine qua non of the Gen Y career psychology. He already had one career in journalism. Switching jobs or industries isn't daunting to him. As Scott sees it, there's no such thing as company loyalty: "The worst career move would be to stick it out in government for the next 20 years. I feel like I could make a much greater impact outside of the system."
So between now and his 35th birthday, Scott will probably dabble, not start a family, and take two or three more jobs. This will be exhilarating, but also more stressful than if he were to stay with the federal government for the next three decades.
Scott says that through his twenties he was a textbook case of what Michigan professor Brent Donnellan describes as "overly invested in choices," afraid he would make the wrong one. But now, as he enters his early thirties, that feeling is dissipating. "You realize that no door is ever fully closed, and if it is closed, it's not that big of a deal," Scott says. "You see more of your friends getting married and being in stable jobs, and that isn't such a bad thing. I'm not looking for the one perfect thing anymore."
When Rebecca Thorman hit a rough patch at age 23, instead of therapy, a soul-searching visit to a healer in Brazil, or a cross-country road trip, she turned to the blogosphere as a way to sort through the coming-of-age issues that kept bubbling up. Thorman, now 28, named her blog Modite.com, a combination of "modern" and "urbanite." Her posts had headlines such as CAREERS ARE LIKE RELATIONSHIPS, SO ASK YOUR MOM FOR ADVICE and GENERATION Y BREEDS A NEW KIND OF WOMAN.
Thorman suffered the post-college blues. She worked in an entry-level job, was in a so-so relationship, and wondered if this was all there was to life. Her existence, she says, felt inconsequential: "You graduate from college and you want to matter and be a part of something bigger."
Then she launched her blog, and all of a sudden she was engaging hundreds of people from around the world in a discussion. The Internet gave her a place for connection and community much like neighborhood bars and churches did for previous generations.
Thorman is part of the 25 percent of twentysomethings today who say they have no religious affiliation. "What people in the past might have gotten from church, I get from the Internet and Facebook," she says. "That is our religion."
But blogging isn't just about community and connectivity. It's fundamentally about the individual. "I like blogging because I feel like a mini-celebrity," Thorman says.
She's not the only one to express that sentiment. "Attention is my drug," Julia Allison told a New York Times writer. Allison is a Georgetown grad who became an Internet celebrity in her twenties and whose photo landed on the cover of Wired magazine with the headline GET INTERNET FAMOUS! EVEN IF YOU'RE NOBODY--JULIA ALLISON AND THE SECRETS OF SELF-PROMOTION. A Pew Research poll asked 18-to-25-year-olds about their generation's top goals, and 51 percent responded with "to be famous."
But Thorman doesn't want fame in the Paris Hilton way--famous for being famous. She wants to be recognized, on the Internet, for her insights and ideas.