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Opinion: 5 Ways Gen Z Can Prepare for AI in the Workplace

A Gen Z writer consulted experts for tips on how students can succeed professionally after the AI revolution, and answers suggested learning its uses and blind spots, including it on resumes and networking with professionals.

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(TNS) — As graduation season winds down, another cohort of Gen-Zers enters a labor market that is being transformed by AI.

According to the 2024 Microsoft Work Trend Index, use of generative AI has doubled in the past six months, and 75 percent of global knowledge workers are now using generative AI as part of their jobs.

A global study conducted by the IBM Institute of Business Value found that executives estimate implementing AI will require 40 percent of their workforce to reskill over the next three years, with the bulk of this falling on entry-level employees. Yet, while many students and job seekers want to pursue these STEM roles they are unsure of the options available to them or where to begin, a survey by IBM and Morning Consult found.

As a fellow member of Gen Z, these statistics alarmed me, so I decided to speak with experts to figure out how Gen Z can prepare for a workplace shaped by the AI revolution. Here’s their advice.


While many in Gen Z are fearful of how AI could affect their job security, a new IBM study revealed this boom could actually create jobs. Forty percent of CEOs surveyed plan to hire additional staff because of generative AI and 51 percent percent say they are hiring for generative AI roles that did not exist last year, with more than half saying they are struggling to fill key technology roles.

“There is a shift towards hiring people with these skills,” says Justina Nixon-Saintil, Vice President and Chief Impact Officer at IBM. “If you do not have basic AI skills, or even advanced AI skills, it is going to be more challenging for you to find meaningful employment.”

To capitalize upon these job opportunities, Nixon-Saintil suggests young people begin educating themselves on AI now. She says that there are many free resources and tools online that teach prompt writing, AI ethics and more. She also suggests finding a mentor who is already using AI in work to teach you about the technology and how you can use it to advance your career goals.

Michael Tchong, founder at Toolhacker LLC, says learning about these new roles in AI will be critical, suggesting Gen Z can even learn a lot about these opportunities from social media. Jobs such as prompt engineering and chatbot building are on the rise, he says. He sees parallels to the Internet era, where every business had to have a website. Now in the AI era, everyone needs to have a chatbot.


Critical thinking will be an important skill in surviving an AI workplace. While AI has the potential to make a lot of job functions easier, the technology is not without shortcomings. Becoming skilled in these shortcomings will be the key to establishing job security, says Dr. Todd Jacobs, the executive director at the cybersecurity think tank Theia Institute

Jobs such as data quality engineering and statistical analysis have at least a couple generations left in them according to Dr. Jacobs. Nixon-Saintil says IBM is looking for people who can understand how to analyze the data, as well as write the right prompt, review it, and make a decision based on the response.

In addition to critical analysis, ‘soft skills’ will become more important as AI can not yet replace these. These ‘soft skills’ include active listening, empathy and collaboration, says Dr. Lisa Palmer, CEO of Dr. Lisa AI. These skills will be essential to adopt to work alongside new AI technologies.

“It can’t be AI instead of humans,” says Dr. Palmer. “But it also can’t be humans without AI because you will be way behind.”


In terms of using AI, Gen-Zers should learn to use AI more like a calculator than an encyclopedia, Dr. Jacobs says. It is a tool that can make things easier, but if the user does not know what the answer should be, then they can not be sure of the output and they will not know how to apply it to their work, rendering it useless.

Dr. Palmer provided the example of students using ChatGPT to do their homework, where the answers never come out quite right. While the answer may be close and sound convincing, she says anyone with knowledge about the topic would be able to see that there were a lot of errors.

“A lot of roles are not necessarily going to ‘go away,’ but there is going to be a new AI powered version of those jobs,” says Dr. Palmer. “For example, coding already looks very different than it did 12 to 15 months ago. Today, there are so many low code, no code tools on the market, so you don’t need some of the basics because there are tools that do that stuff for you now.”

As a result of these abilities, the definition of entry level jobs is shifting, Nixon-Saintil explains. In the past jobs were defined by responding to queries and completing basic tasks, but now these jobs will require some softer skills, a level of content knowledge and expertise, as well as the judgment ability to decide what to do with the data.

“If you are thinking as a Gen-Zer that you will just be providing people with information … that type of job market will no longer exist,” Nixon-Saintil says.


As the job market rapidly shifts, Nixon-Saintil suggests finding a mentor to teach you about how to incorporate the technology into your career.

“Gen Z is not going to have the benefit of looking at the careers of those in front of them, a lot of those careers aren’t going to exist anymore,” says Dr. Palmer.

Without a blueprint, finding a mentor will be very important. In addition to this, networking will be key as AI makes the job market more volatile.

“There are companies that are going to die because they are not adjusting to the AI world,” says Dr. Palmer. “This means that all of the employees that work for them are going to find themselves back on the job market more frequently.”

To combat this, she suggests building your personal brand and calling on these mentors and your network.

“The best way to buoy yourself against risk of unemployment or underemployment is the people you know,” says Dr. Palmer.


As AI continues to evolve, all four experts emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind and continuing to learn.

“Your mindset and willingness to use tools to make the output even better [is so important],” says Dr. Palmer.

Nixon-Saintil emphasizes the urgency of the embrace of this technology.

“This has to happen now,” she says. “If Gen-Zers are not moving on this, this has the potential to leave communities behind. This is a now issue — it is not just something in the future.”

Fast Company © 2024 Mansueto Ventures, LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.