A few days ago, the article “The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright” from New York Magazine was circulated among my colleagues. The article was about how many people in the “millenial” generation were unable to find jobs, lost hope, and felt cheated out of the golden future they were promised as adolescents. My colleagues who were commenting about it were not of the “millenial generation,” so I felt a need to give my two cents and simultaneously end the long email chain:
Being a somewhat recent grad, I can attest that millenials are being taught to think that success is achieved via a 1 – 2 -3 process. That was what I was made to believe in while in college; that having a certain major or a particular internship at a big firm would be a sure stepping stone to getting a job before graduation.
I was a type A student with shiny honors, multiple internships, and a guaranteed job working in corporate communications for a pharmaceutical company. However, I graduated in 2010 and found myself unemployed and living out of my car as I looked for a cheap apartment in Brooklyn. Luckily enough, I had a few good mentors, a drive to not be complacent and was motivated to make my own opportunities.
I was invited back to my alma mater recently to speak with students about my experience and my professor said that there is always the “top 5%”: people who are successful because they were never complacent. This may sound like a self-centered and vain proclamation about how I’m not like the rest of my generation, but I would like to think there is a reason why I’m entering my second year at 360i instead of still being a waitress at a cafe along the Hudson.
You can’t have a mass of people who have the same thing to offer. Decades ago, a fraction of people went to college. Now that it’s the norm, there has to be an additional effort made in order to be in that top 5% – and that goes for companies as well as people. What we are seeing is a new era of questioning archaic processes and building from experience and innovation instead of leveraging a name, status, or degree.
Besides the fact this article took the opinions of a handful of twenty-somethings to represent a whole generation, I think the recession as a whole was a wake-up call for individuals and corporations. One can’t follow a step-by-step process in education or business. There’s a reason why traditional companies are suffering and our company found success by challenging the typical marketing and communications model. That’s why there are many unemployed law and finance students who thought they had it made along with brilliant young people with Liberal Arts degrees working at start ups, freelancing, and making opportunities for themselves.
I’m not sure if the sentiment should be “oh poor young people” or “those lazy kids.” I personally feel that there are some that think that going to college and getting a job is a right, not something you earn by hard work. Education is a privilege and opportunities don’t appear by doing nothing. I guess if I were to have any statement, it would have to be something along the lines of “Success is earned.”
Now that I said my two cents, I think I’m going to spend some TLC on my red Schwinn Le Tour from 1975, listen to electronic music via my iPod, and shuffle my business cards.