The time-honored “East Coast / West Coast” debate now extends far beyond Biggie vs. Tupac and Shake Shack vs. In-N-Out Burger. The two infamous locations synonymous with “making it” are going head to head for America’s best and brightest college grads: Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
#TeamTech is in the lead: Romanced by the very millennial notion of changing the world while rocking a hoodie and sipping a mid-afternoon office beer, college grads are increasingly saying “bye, Felicia” to the likes of Jordan Belfort and fist-bumping tech messiah Mark Zuckerberg.
Actual numbers substantiate this trend, so you know it’s real. The tech sector as well as STEM courses have experienced a small renaissance as of late, with more and more grads pulling a Jack Kerouac and road tripping west in search of CSS and summer Fridays. Unfortunately for Jamie Dimon, Wall Street has suffered the consequences, with fewer and fewer college kids opting for stiff suits, 15-hour work days and six-figure starting salaries.
A New Kind of CEO
So, why the shift?
First off, Silicon Valley startups tend to operate less like traditional businesses and more like adult class projects. These small companies value comfort and creativity over intimidation and hierarchy, aim to think outside of the box, aren’t afraid of disruption and understand your moral allegiance to Mac over PC.
For the majority of millennials desiring flexible hours, meaningful work and the God-given right to wear sweatpants and sunglasses when nursing a Friday morning hangover, tech startups check all of the boxes.
More importantly, young professionals view the tech space as an innovative, burgeoning industry with potential for impactful and widespread change (not to mention fame and fortune). There’s a contagious sense that you can actually make a difference in the world, which happens to rank high on millennials’ list of professional goals.
Incomprehensible to Wall Street millionaires and your grandfather, Gen Y measures success in impact and social change rather than dollars and cents.
Combining America’s Two Superpowers
We’ve established that Silicon Valley is your insightful, pot smoking older cousin while Wall Street is your wealthy, more traditional uncle. But haven’t we always been told to respect our elders?
That’s the opinion of TechCrunch’s Eric Poirier, who believes both industries could benefit from less competition and more collaboration. “There’s a tremendous opportunity present for those financial institutions willing to push back against the ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality currently ascribed to Silicon Valley and Wall Street,” writes Poirier in his recent piece on the so-called talent war. “Instead [they should] embrace meaningful partnerships where the hoodies and the suits work together in a more impactful, transparent way that fosters increased adoption of new technology.”
We second Poirier’s notion. Silicon Valley and Wall Street should make like Rihanna and Eminem and collaborate, both for the sake of innovation and the eager college graduates looking for new and impactful opportunities. Just as we’ve seen with the sharing economy, those who are ready and willing to adapt with the times are more likely to rise to the top.
Would you rather work on Wall Street or at a Silicon Valley tech startup? Share your opinion in the comments below or catch up with us on Facebook.