“The future of work is now!” It’s all but become the war cry of the great pandemic pivot for today’s workforce.

We’re one year into this thing and the future-of-work conversation has been at the forefront since the beginning. Though, in our commitment to “future-proofing” the workforce, how well do we know what to ask of the future workforce that’s just getting started? 

As a student who is wrapping up her final semester of undergrad (remotely), working part-time on Communitech’s Talent & HR teams (remotely) and hunting for her first full-time gig (oh yes...remotely), I count myself among that group. And I can tell you – we have some things to say.

For today’s highly-sought, emerging generation of talent, career possibilities feel limitless, yet restricted. At times, carving out our place in a post-pandemic, digital world feels like a rewarding challenge to be optimistic about. On the other hand, trying to find your footing in the workforce while it is collectively shifting is an inherently dizzying feat.

There’s no denying the duality of the situation. But we’re certain about one thing: There is still much to be established within this new world of work and we’re eager to help navigate it; to make an impact at a time when it really matters.

That’s why I’m writing this column – to add a fresh, honest and personal perspective to a much larger conversation.

Over the past five years, I’ve been studying media and business at the University of Waterloo and reaping the benefits of its exceptional co-op program. I’ve gained experience working in events, talent, marketing and human resources, all within Waterloo Region’s tech industry. I count myself lucky to have had many of those experiences in person and also to have experienced the initial shift to remote work during my final placements.

It’s driven me to try and document, if not address, some of the challenges, questions, big ideas and new trends we’re sorting through.

From where I stand, the workforce is only beginning its mental and organizational shift from keeping afloat to rebuilding. So, as I and so many of my peers stumble forward after graduation with this nuanced uncertainty and ambition, where should we turn for advice?

Better yet, how can we actually help to shape the future of work we want to be a part of? What is it that we want, anyway? How much of it can we do independently and what will it take?

In the columns to come, I will delve deeper into these questions, from embracing the hybrid-work model, the rising gig economy and/or remote work and travel, to strengthening the interdisciplinary mindset that is unwittingly required to manage our competing priorities.

I’ll take a stab at reasoning out what it means to identify more with our professions and less with our organizations.

I’ll zero in on the popular requests associated with Gen Z, such as “abolish the 40-hour work week,” and talk about how prioritizing your mental health fits into launching your career. My list goes on.

But let me be clear – I already know I won’t find easy answers and that they certainly won’t be one-size-fits-all. My goal is to drive conversations that will empower emerging talent at a particularly aimless time. To share stories of becoming, overcoming and conquering – even from behind a screen within their own four walls.

My hope is that in doing so, it will connect some of the dots for seasoned professionals fighting the “war for talent,” too.

Like my directionally-challenged but endearingly optimistic Dad used to say whenever we got turned around, “We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re going to get there!”

It’s all playing out before our eyes, here and now. We’re wide awake and paying attention. Grab a pen, let’s map this out together.