Lately, I have been thinking about Anne’s blog post from a few weeks ago called Next Practices with “Generation Next.” In the article, she talks about Millennials (folks born between 1980 and 1995), and since I was born in 1980, I guess I fit into this category. Anne talks about the needs and wants of people of my generation. She listed things like flexibility, good pay, work/life balance, and interesting work as factors that are important. Her article was spot on. But my question is this – is the ability to get positions that offer these benefits realistic in today’s market?
I am sure many of you have seen the “You Are Not Special” Commencement Speech. In the speech, David McCullough Jr. says “Do whatever you do because you love it and believe in its importance.” This is a fantastic sentiment and fits in with much of the Millennial rhetoric. But then Google “College Graduate Unemployment” and article after article pops up stating that one in two college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. Add to that the student loan debt and lower median wages and it looks like dreaming will need to wait. Many talk about the student loan bubble, but what about the emotional toll created from such a job market?
There is a lot of doom and gloom and an apparent disconnect between expectations vs. reality. The general feeling seems to be that we are too pampered and expect too much. That might be the case, but my generation is also resourceful, intelligent, and hard working. I see a big shift happening. Where the job market is not providing opportunities for my generation, we seem to be pretty good at going out and creating our own.
I moved to Chicago a year and half ago for various reasons. I knew no one, but I realized that I had to put myself out there. I started networking and meeting people at various functions. Many people I talked to have gotten tired of trying to navigate through a nearly impossible job market and have decided to make it go on their own terms, whether through tech startups or bakeries started out of kitchens. For these folks it is more about doing what they believe in and succeeding on their own terms. I am not saying that all of these ventures will become multibillion dollar companies, but maybe that isn’t the point.
I see this as a shift as my generation ages and gets more experience. If the old rules aren’t working for us, we will create our own. Perhaps we all still have the rebellious teenager inside us. The same teenager that sat in the hot sun one June day, diploma in hand, feeling like she could take on the world.