- Young workers are using AI tools such as chatbots at work more than any other generation.
- They say drafting emails, research, and brainstorming are the most helpful use cases.
- Experts told Insider that Gen Z was well positioned to capitalize on the AI boom.
ChatGPT probably won’t take your job in the years ahead — but a Gen Zer equipped with AI technology just might.
Take AJ Eckstein. He’s a 24-year-old consultant at a Fortune 500 company who uses artificial-intelligence tools on the daily to complete his tasks.
Time to email a coworker? He’ll ask a chatbot to draft up the first version of the message. Want to make sure he’s not coming across as too stiff? He’ll ask it to shift the email’s tone to be more friendly, while staying professional.
Using AI has made him more productive and efficient on the job, he said. But the biggest benefit of AI isn’t cutting down the amount of time it takes him to work. Instead, it allows him to fast-track to the work he’s excited about — such as meeting with clients — while outsourcing the rest, he said.
“What we’re trying to do is focus more on the strategic work, focus more on the client relationships, and get away from emails or deck building,” he said.
Eckstein isn’t the only Gen Zer taking advantage of new tools to stand out at work. Early signs point to the newest members of the workforce being the first to embrace AI. That could supercharge Gen Z careers, as generative AI is expected to affect millions of jobs, and companies are already seeking talent to help navigate those changes. Experts say that AI will make workers more productive and decrease the need for some tasks, so the workers who can thread that needle will come out on top.
“You will not be replaced by AI but by someone who knows what to do with AI,” Oded Netzer, a Columbia Business School professor, told Insider.
A March Pew Research poll of 10,701 US adults found that 18- to 29-year-olds were likelier to have heard of ChatGPT than other age groups. And among those surveyed who were familiar with the AI and had a job, 18% of 18- to 29-year-olds said they’d already used ChatGPT for tasks at work, compared with 13% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 8% of those ages 50 to 64.
In April, nine in 10 of nearly 1,200 business leaders surveyed by Resume Builder said they were looking to hire workers with ChatGPT experience.
Gen Zers’ eagerness to experiment with AI could allow them to outpace older generations
Even before ChatGPT launched in the fall, younger generations were more comfortable with AI developments than older generations.
“We know from past technological revolutions that older workers have generally struggled to adjust,” Carl Benedikt Frey, an Oxford University economist, told Insider. “From that perspective, Gen Z should be in a good position to capitalize on the AI boom.”
Along with email help, Eckstein said he employed ChatGPT or other chatbots to research competitors, analyze case studies, and ask questions about new markets.
“We haven’t been in the workforce for as long as millennials or Gen X, so we don’t really know how it’s been done,” he added.
Gen Zers are using AI for research and brainstorming
Lais Silva, a Gen Z content manager at a social-media startup, said she’d essentially replaced Google with ChatGPT.
ChatGPT is her go-to research assistant: “It’s much faster than Googling it, choosing a supposedly reliable source, and reading it all until maybe I find the answer I need,” she said.
Morgan Young, a project-management intern, said chatbots were her preferred brainstorming partner.
She’ll give the bot a scenario like, “We have X number of users, Y number of active users, and these tools at our disposal.” Young will follow up with questions like: “How can we increase engagement?” or, “What new products should we create?”
She predicted this experimentation with AI would make her better at her job.
“It will force us to upskill,” the 20-year-old said. “We are going to have to do the higher-level things.”
Older generations could have a competitive edge over Gen Z because of experience — if they’re open to learning AI tools
The AI revolution isn’t guaranteed to be a boon for Gen Z workers. That’s in part because AI could reduce the number of jobs in certain industries.
“Even if they are better placed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by generative AI, there might be fewer such opportunities to compete for,” Oxford’s Frey said.
And as AI makes it easier for workers to write and code, among other things, many roles could become more competitive.
Additionally, while the younger generations might have a head start, many older workers should be able to learn and apply these AI tools, Columbia’s Netzer said.
Still, he expects Gen Z to come out ahead.
“As we have seen with previous technological innovations of that scale, like the internet and social media, it is indeed the generations that grow into these technologies at the time in which they enter adulthood that become faster to adopt them,” he said.
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