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A 22-year-old musician has gone viral for his video documenting his departure from an interview for a part-time job after learning the role would require working weekends.
“Yeah, I’m sorry, you said it was a weekend job?” Justin Ross, who goes by his artist name 9Letters on TikTok, says in the video, which features him recording part of his virtual interview.
“Yes,” the interviewer clarifies.
“Yeah, that works,” Ross replies, before abruptly closing out the call.
“Red zone comes first,” he wrote in the caption, referring to NFL RedZone, which broadcasts on Sundays all day during the NFL regular season.
The video has garnered nearly half a million views and about 37,000 likes as of Monday afternoon. The video’s virality has underscored what Ross described as a generational difference in approach to work-life balance.
“One thing that is really slept on with our generation is that we’re trolling on the internet [and] we make light out of dark situations, but we are in tune to a lot of things at the same time,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “And I think the older generations, it looks to them like we’re lazy or we’re not following through on things they followed through with, but there’s more factors that go into it.”
I think the older generations, it looks to them like we’re lazy or we’re not following through on things they followed through with, but there’s more factors that go into it.
— Justin Ross
When it feels as if many of the available jobs undervalue workers or fail to meet their needs, Ross said he believes young people have less incentive to feel loyal to or grateful for any one employer.
These shifting attitudes fall in line with Gen Z’s tendency to set firmer boundaries during the job hunt as well as in the workplace.
A Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and millennial survey found that “pay, feeling the workplace was detrimental to their mental health, and burnout are the top reasons millennials and Gen Zs left their employers over the last two years.”
The survey polled more than 14,000 Gen Z members and over 7,400 millennials from 46 countries between November and January.
“…when it comes to what makes them choose an organization to work for, good work/life balance and learning and development opportunities are their top priorities,” the survey found.
Ross, who lives in California, said he feels many Gen Zers believe it’s near-impossible nowadays to work a minimum-wage job and make enough money to afford a one-person apartment. Instead, he said, it’s become the norm to take on extra work on the side to just barely make ends meet.
About 43% of Gen Zers surveyed by Deloitte said they have taken on either a part- or full-time paying job in addition to their primary job.
“If the job is not respecting you or giving you value in the way you see fit or meeting your scheduling standards or things like that,” Ross said, “it’s time to find a new opportunity because there’s more out there and it’s not even worth it.”
As far as his video goes, Ross wasn’t expecting such a show of solidarity. He had originally posted the snippet to Snapchat, but as his audience there kept swiping up to marvel at the hilarity of the situation, he decided to bring the video to TikTok. An unusual amount of likes quickly rolled in.
“My friends were sending it to me, and people were like, ‘I just saw this on my for-you page randomly, like I don’t even follow you,’” Ross said. “And in the comments, everybody was like, ‘Oh, he did the right thing.’ People were just relating.”
Many in the comments section overwhelmingly expressed their support for the decision, with some indicating shock at the bold move and others claiming they would do the same.
“She really thought you were about to work on nfl Sunday? Tripping,” one top commenter wrote. Another user agreed, writing “priorities come first” with a 100 emoji.
Since his sudden exit from the interview, Ross said he hasn’t gotten any follow-up inquiries from his interviewer. He suspects the interviewer “knew what it was,” he said. To him, the decision to close out of the conversation came easily.
While his TikTok video was intended to be “just for jokes,” Ross said he does harbor a deep passion for football. He had played the sport since he was 5 years old, and though he’s no longer on the field, he still makes sure to tune in as a fan every Sunday.
“Football has always been a part of me,” he said.
For now, Ross said he will continue to work on his music while attending junior college. And he’s happy to lock down a part-time role — as long as it keeps his football-Sundays free.
Angela Yang is an intern for NBC News Digital.
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