Mending the Divisons Among Us

Don’t pretend they don’t exist. In cities across the country, there are noticeable divisions between young professionals and they don’t have anything to do with race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Case in point: the typical finance guy who rolls his eyes at the ridiculous looking hipster who walks by him on a patio, only to party at a place known as a hipster hangout himself later that evening. Meanwhile the hipster may have noticed the finance guy in his crisp designer suit, sipping his $6 latte, Porsche keys on the table with his very blonde girlfriend, and thought how appropriate. A family dinner may end in an argument when two sisters – one an entrepreneur launching a start-up and the other making her way up the ladder in the secure corporate world – butt heads when the subject of career choice comes up. 

Admit it, when we describe individuals to other young professionals, we often use terms like artsy, a bit of a hipster, finance guy, PR Girl and scenester with these seemingly universal urban labels conjuring up accompanying stereotypes and assumptions, some of which are creating divisions and misconceptions as to who hangs out with who, what certain jobs entail, and what types of YPs frequent certain establishments. 

A series of discussions with a mix of young professionals from varying aforementioned labels and professions have determined the most common stereotypes among YPs. We’ve heard directly from some who set the stereotypes straight, unanimously claiming, “We’re not all like that!” Here’s the dirt… 

The PR Girl

The Misconception

– Probably an upper-middle class former sorority girl
– Always perfectly polished and immaculate looking
– Public relations is a cushy, glamourous job 

“A lot of people think that the job is always as glamourous as it appears on television,” said a 27-year-old Toronto lifestyle public relations professional. “In reality, we are often on our hands and knees assembling tables, printing, and décor for events and working late hours on tight deadlines. Of course the job comes with perks, but they are well earned!” 

The Entrepreneur

The Misconception

– Wakes up when he or she feels like it and probably spends more time in a typical day “lunching” and at the gym than actually working
– “Must be nice to be your own boss”
– He or she can’t handle the pressure of the corporate world

“People think that because I am an entrepreneur, that my work life must be pretty easy. In reality, I don’t have just one boss, I have many. All of my clients are my bosses and I am accountable to many individuals, including myself,” said a 29-year-old entrepreneur, owner of a rapidly up-and-coming start-up company. “Furthermore, I tend to work incredibly long hours because I play a variety of roles and job titles within the company that I must juggle. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.” 

The Scenester or Professional Partier

The Misconception

– They live for the elite party circuit and probably sleep all day
– They are a perpetual bachelor/bachelorette
– They are socialites with money to blow and clothing to show off

“Because I am a lifestyle journalist, I am out covering a variety of events most nights of the week. People see me out all the time and assume I am this limelight obsessed party girl,” said a 30-year-old female media professional. “In reality, I am not drinking; I am there to get my story and am happy to leave once I do so that I can go home to make a late dinner with my boyfriend.”

The Finance Guy

The Misconception

They are money-driven and obsessed with status
– They are out partying most nights, hitting on waitresses
– They are too arrogant and self-obsessed to appreciate the local arts scene

“Our profession involves a lot of entertaining, so most Thursday evenings we must wine, dine and amuse clients, especially if they are in from out of town,” said a 32-year-old investment banker. “We usually do end up at some of the city’s higher-end establishments but that is the nature of the industry. On the weekends, I am happy backyard BBQing or going to a live comedy show or art exhibit with my girlfriend.”

The Executive

The Misconception

– Plays it safe and by the books
– Probably power tripping, has a bad temper and is arrogant
– Is ice-cold and tough to crack 

“The biggest stereotypes that I encounter, on everything from first dates to among family members, is that I am tough, intimidating and a workaholic,” said a 36-year-old advertising executive. “In reality, I make a point to have breakfast and dinner five days per week with my family, have my subordinates up to my cottage in the summer for a retreat, and manage to make time to pursue passions like playing the guitar and rock climbing.

The Hipster

The Misconception

– They don’t want to grow up, are dreamers and have no drive
– The try harder than “us” to get ready
– They try too hard to abstain from the mainstream

“I am an artist, but that doesn’t mean I am a dreamer. I studied my craft at one of Canada’s top tier universities, teach twice a week and currently have money put away in RRSPs and invested in the stock market,” said a 30-year-old actor. “It irritates me that people are so quick to call people who dress a certain way “hipsters.” Some of my university friends wear business suits in their conservative job by day, but are rocking the skinny jeans, scarves and fedoras by night.”

Have we learned a few things? Before you are so quick to judge a fellow young professional by his or her appearance, style or profession, spend a few minutes speaking to them first. You may be surprised – that finance guy and the entrepreneur could share a mutual love for a certain type of music, nightclub and girl, and could become quick friends. That polished PR girl may surprise the “hipster” artist with her knowledge of art, poetry and life in general, and she may realize, in turn, that she is better suited with a passionate “artsy” guy than the stereotypical PR girl/finance guy pairing. Our cities are rich with diversity, culture and talent of all sorts. Imagine what we could create and open our minds to if we weren’t so limited to these pre-conceived notions of each other. The next time you see someone outside of your typical circle at a charity event or mixer at a new restaurant opening, talk to him or her. You never know what you will discover about them and yourself.