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What Are Young Professionals?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Young professionals are individuals working in careers that are considered white collar in nature and who are within a specified age bracket. There is actually a great deal of fluidity when it comes to identifying the specific characteristics of what constitutes young professionals, with some schools of thought considering anyone who wears business type clothing to work and is under a certain age to fit into this category. Other concepts tend to narrow the scope a bit, limiting the use of the term to individuals who are involved in specific types of careers.

A common nickname for young professionals "yuppies." Essentially, this nickname combines elements of both young and professional, although there is a popular myth that the term is actually more related to the designation of a young person engaged in a career as a young puppy. There may be some basis for this myth, in that it was not unusual for up and coming employees during the early 20th century to be referred to as "young pups" by the more established owners and executives.

Defining what actually constitutes young professionals can be difficult, as the term is often used in a broad sense. For some, the term is only relevant to individuals who are under a certain age, such as the age of 30, and who are not engaged in jobs that focus on manual labor or clerical work. This means that a young person in his or her 20s who is employed as a salesperson or a manager or administrator in company operation would be considered a young professional, while someone occupying the same position but had reached the age of 40 would be labeled as a professional, but not necessarily classified as young.

Over the years, certain stereotypes have emerged as being common for young professionals. One has to do with an almost all-consuming preoccupation with advancing the career at any costs, often to the exclusion of developing healthy social relationships. This has also led to popular images of young professionals as being lonely, finding solace in their careers, and eventually becoming so obsessed with success in the workplace that their entire sense of worth is based on how well the career is advancing.

A different concept of young professionals is a bit more optimistic, with the term used to describe younger people who work hard at their careers, but also attempt to balance those careers with the development of strong emotional ties with others and even paying attention to their needs in terms of spirituality, physical fitness, and other aspects of living. This idea of young professionals focuses on younger people who want to have it all, see hard work both on the job and in other settings as important to reaching those goals, and strive to not define their worth based on one particular component.

Just as there is no real agreement on when young professionals are no longer young, there is not a solid consensus on exactly when an individual first assumes this role in society. One idea is that as soon as a young person graduates from a traditional college with a degree relevant to some profession, he or she automatically becomes a young professional, even if there is no job offer waiting. Others withhold this designation until appropriate employment is obtained and the individual is established in the field of choice.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By pastanaga — On May 20, 2014

@Mor - Honestly, I think that happens in every kind of society and with every sort of person. It's just that young professionals have such a lot of income without needing to spend it on dependents, that they can afford to be more ostentatious than other people.

By Mor — On May 20, 2014

@browncoat - It might be that your family started calling them yuppies when they were young and the label just stuck to them even after they outgrew it.

It's interesting how this demographic has changed since the 80s actually. They are still very technology and status orientated, but apparently the appearance has changed. I read an article recently about how many people decide what kind of car to buy based around their perceived value as a status symbol and how recently that has shifted to environmentally friendly vehicles. Only young people don't just buy cars that are good for the environment, they buy cars that are identifiable as good for the environment.

I guess it's the same as having to wear a suit and tie, or whatever the uniform is for your workplace. Young people always feel the need to fit in (or stand out, in the right way) and it's even worse in a competitive environment like a high-powered job.

By browncoat — On May 19, 2014

I never really thought of yuppies as necessarily being young. They are just people who get paid a lot in professional, usually technology-based jobs and who act in a certain way. They always have the latest gadgets and care a lot about social status.

Many people in my extended family were yuppies and we used to joke that the way you could tell was that at family get togethers they would always pull out their latest gadgets (like a cellphone or camera) and compare them in order to communicate. This has not changed as they got older. My uncle is now in his 50s and he still participates in this contest every Christmas.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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