I am not really sure if I am a Gen-Y or Millennial generation. To be honest I don’t really care, but I am a twenty something, have a twitter, flickr, vimeo, mySpace, Facebook, etc account, my own blog, an iPhone 3gs, a MacBook Pro, and like indie music (only until it becomes popular and then I pretend not to like it because it is popular but really just listen to it as a guilty pleasure). By these measures I am sure I am one of the two generations.
I came across a site 80millionstrong.org and recently read an article in the New York Times (the paper edition, I know paper “what’s that?”) about many college students are forced to live the summer with their parents because of the lack of internships. I have been graced with the good fortune of always having at least one job working for my father, and I understand the economy has tanked in the last year or so. What I find vexing about the 80millionstrong.org project is that Millenials are expecting the government to bail them out with legislation.
I remember stories from my parents who both worked 60hrs a week while they were raising me and my Father was going to college. These stories are what I live my life by, working hard and doing things that just need to be done. I think most of us think today that all we need to to is go to high school, then go to college, then we will be able to land a good job, all the while in our educational journey doing as many internships and extra curricular activities as possible. I have always disagreed with this philosophy. Some of the best lessons I have had were not in an academic setting, I learned how to throw while delievering papers when I was 13, how to deal with the boss when working for my father, how to deal with stress line cooking on a $19,000 day at Buffalo Wild Wings, how to be humble shoveling pig shit for 6 months(not to mention a strong back). Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to be learned from going to college but it is not a way to a job nor should it be. Just because you have a degree in something doesn’t mean that you are qualified for a position in that field. You may have a degree but if you have never spent the time to really understand your motivation, talents, craft then you didn’t get an education.
I started college in 2003 as a Mathematics major. I had no idea what Mathematics majors did after school, nor did I care, I just new that I loved the pursuit of a greater understanding of our world through Mathematics and I would deal with what I did after I graduated. For some reason or another I lost the passion for Mathematics in the spring of 2006, but I found another Ceramics. Hindsight being 20/20 I understand why, Ceramics allowed me to use the abstractness of higher Mathematics in a more qualitative way. All the way through college I was always asked the question, “So, what are you going to do with a Math/Art degree?”. Initially when I was younger my answer was, “I don’t know” as I got older (I didn’t get out of undergraduate until I was 23) my answer became, “Anything I want”. This change comes from the way I started looking at my time in college. My time wasn’t just sit in a classroom and memorize things then regurgitate, rinse, repeat. My time was connecting with people around me, learning from them, learning how to manage my life, learning how to learn new things. It was being able to connect with theses people, having a thirst for learning/knowledge, and working my ass off that enabled me to have two or three jobs throughout college and beyond.
I don’t currently have my dream job now that I am out of college. I am currently writing/maintaining software and doing customer support for TourneyCentral.com and line cooking at Steinkeller ( a german restaurant in Oxford, OH) but they pay the bills for now. The point is we are on the bottom, and we need to do what we need to do to survive. We need to forget our hopes of $35,000 entry level positions, and work our ass off at anything we do. We should never base our energy and level of perfection on our wage. Us Gen-Yers and Millennials will have shit jobs, apartments and living situations for a while longer, but it will allow us shed the attitude of entitlement which will benefit everyone for a long time to come. My idea for a bail out for us is to buy 80 million copies of “The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything (Hardcover)” by Guy Kawasaki, the real life version not the kindle version(pay especial attention to the part on bootstrapping).
P.S. I am in about $15,000 of credit card debt, $25,000 of student loans, my credit is tanked, and my parents never co-signed anything for me (of which I’m glad). I understand the situation you are in Gen-Y/Millennial