As a new batch of graduates pounds the pavement looking for work, Gen Y remains painfully aware of workforce reality. After all, 75% of them did not have a job waiting for them after the caps were thrown in the air.
Yes, the economy still sucks. No, not enough of this year’s graduates learned from those from 2008, 2009 and 2010 – many of whom remain unemployed or under-employed. Yes, the job search process has never been more difficult. And yes, student loan debt has again reached record levels.
However, many in Gen Y – having seen promises made and broken by preceding generations (as well as by two political parties in a row) – now, finally, recognize that quick fixes do not exist.
And… now that college is behind them, they know they are going to have to work their butts off.
Clearly, Gen Y isn’t the only birth generation suffering through what is now being called a “post-recession” economy. Their parents – perhaps convinced by their own parents – learned to be good employees and work for the same company for decades. Searching for some sort of security, many joined labor unions. Others strove for residency or tenure within their professions. Almost all were willing to start at the very bottom of their generation’s corporate ladder.
Decades later, their nest eggs gone and (theoretically) at the end of a prolonged recession, these Boomers revert to what they know best: get another job. Today, many are working at McDonalds, Wal-Mart or Home Depot. Or they have become “consultants”. Gen X follows closely in their footsteps, and now will have to remain in the workforce much longer to afford retirement.
Many of the new Millennials, on the other hand, are creating options for themselves. Despite everything we often hear to the contrary… those that have finally adapted, are those still under control.
Perhaps unwittingly, and most certainly out of necessity, many Millennials – especially those who have learned from their slightly older colleagues – are developing a plan that doesn’t include working for someone else in some arbitrary form of the old “9 to 5”:
1) Early in their college years, Gen Y is securing relevant internships and volunteering for service organizations (experience and a degree? Move to the top of the hiring list!)
2) They deliberately work and learn (the old “apprenticeship” model?) within sectors projected to be hiring at graduation (no Liberal Arts majors for this crowd)
3) They build personal relationships with their employer-mentors, emphasizing a solid work ethic, energy, passion, and results (and built in recommendations)
4) While earning a wage or studying, and instead of being couch potatoes in their “off” time, many are working on side projects that combine their passion and entrepreneurial spirit to create their own jobs (no waiting for, or counting on, someone else)
Add personal branding and strong networking – particularly through social media – and the Millennials just now entering college may never feel the effects of our poor economy.
This is not a Jack-in-the-bean-stock style magic bean, or a get-rich-quick scheme. These steps are not the easy way out (quite the opposite). Perhaps born from the “entitlement” issue that keeps rearing its bipolar head, this is an attitude specific to new millennials: “we deserve a good career, and we’re going to find a way to make it happen.”
Millennials, as a whole, may not understand the significance of this achievement. Many within their own ranks don’t yet know that this “Job Search 2.0” is already a repeatable, scalable success mechanism.
They will… and when they do, they’ll text and tweet it until their fingers bleed.
Mark Babbitt, a passionate supporter of Gen Y talent and CEO and Founder of YouTern, is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter: @YouTernMark.