As a millennial myself I am well aware of how competitive the job market is. I’m not going to make this post all about blaming the older generation and I definitely don’t intend to self-deprecate my own generation – but I do think self reflection is important and maybe it’s time for us to take a hard look at ourselves to understand how to get where we want to go.
I graduated from college in 2013 (coming up on three years now – gross!) and watched as the people around me, and myself, struggled to find jobs. We had done everything right. Just like our parents told us – we had done well in high school, we took the SATs, we went to college, and now we were getting a degree. So why weren’t the job offers rolling in? I mean, companies should by dying to hire us…right? We did everything we were supposed to do.
But did we?
I had a brief moment of panic as I was heading towards graduation – I was ten days away from a diploma and no one was throwing job offers at me. The phone didn’t ring. Here I was at age 21 living in one of the most expensive cities in the country and I had no job. And not even that I had no job – I had no career. That’s the main distinction I want to make here: us millennials, we don’t want jobs. We want careers. Or at least that’s what I wanted.
My brief anxiety was put at ease when the previous six months of hard work paid off and I was offered the opportunity to interview for a Merchandise Coordinator role at a corporate apparel office. I’m not going to say I was “lucky” because I had worked hard for months popping into the HR office, sending my résumé out, and making phone calls. I worked to make opportunities and relationships where there were none. At the end of the day it paid off – but I want to be clear that if I hadn’t been able to start my career after college, I would have found a job. Not because it’s what I really wanted, but because the government doesn’t wait all that long to start calling and asking for their money back on those beautiful student loans…
Sometimes I wonder if our generation has struggled to find jobs because we’re picky and we feel that because we did all the right things – all the things our parents told us to do – that we should have careers. I’m not saying we’re spoiled or selfish, I’m saying maybe we were naive. I’m wondering if we never considered that just because we checked off all the boxes for success, that things don’t just come to us but that we have to keep pushing to make them happen.
I’ve also found myself wondering if it’s also harder for millennials to find jobs because we aren’t as hungry – as desperate – as generations before us. As I was panicking trying to figure out how to find a job in San Francisco I remember my dad chuckle to himself and say, “If we couldn’t find jobs after college in my generation – we moved.” …You moved? What do you mean you moved? But I want to stay here, in this city, in this place. But he had a point – if I couldn’t find a job here and I had bills to pay, why didn’t I move somewhere else and find a job?
I just want to clarify that the intent of this post isn’t meant to offend – it’s actually meant to inspire you to get out there and bust your butt to make sh*t happen. It’s also my own self reflection on why I struggled the way I did and why I still to this day continue to watch my generation search for the answers. I certainly don’t have them all.
What I hope for our generation is that we find the strength, the passion, and the drive to make all the things we want a reality. Sometimes it’s a huge struggle – it could mean writing endless letters and emails to a company you’re dying to work for. It could mean walking straight into their office without an appointment and just making an introduction to someone in the lobby. It also could be straight up LinkedIn stalking people that work at that company in the department you’d like to work for. Or maybe you’re someone who really just wants to take their side hustle to full time.
I think it’s about having little to no shame, and endless amounts of passion.
What’s your passion? If you could have your dream career – what would it be? Tell me in the comments below!