Millennials Are Working For Next To Nothing, Playing Down Their Abilities For Any Bit Of Experience

We’ve all given something away: half a sandwich to our friends, a generous tip to a hardworking, disheveled waitress or loose change to a homeless man with sad, lonely eyes.

Sure, some things we should offer and expect nothing in return, but there are plenty of things that we, Gen-Y, should stop throwing at anyone who will take it.

The bruised economy has led people to pinch pennies and trim the fat from their costs. While the job market is slow to recover, we are all feeling the heat as employers look for cost-friendly ways to operate.

We are impatient, hungry and yearning for a coveted job that will validate the struggle. We continue to apply for internships, placements and contributing positions, but these options provide us with little enthusiasm to keep racing ahead to the finish line.

If we continue to hear that we are not worth hiring (aside from thank you emails that insincerely make their way into our inboxes), how can we be expected to value our own work?

Don’t give up and don’t hound employers for every little dollar, but learn how to hustle.

Do not allow anyone to take your talent and work for granted. If you are providing a service to a company that can afford to operate, there should be some sort of financial compromise to help you.

Through your ad hoc work, you are freeing up time for a company’s employee, so that they can be more efficient. Make a case for yourself; if you don’t ask, you certainly will not receive.

Some professionals are careless vultures, eagerly picking up free work from overeager Millennials. Some need the help, but have little funding to offer for the services. Some want your skills, but they don’t want you.

They all have one thing in common, however: They don’t care much about the fair cost of the service you provide or what their contribution means for your own wellbeing.

And why should they? We are the only ones who can look out for our own general interests. We are the ones demanding little more than another name-dropping line for our resumes.

The general assumption is that Millennials should give away skills for free because “experience is invaluable,” or something of that nature. In the midst of a degrading stereotype that insists we have been given everything for free, we convince ourselves that we need to give something back or we will not get what we want.

We know that unless we fill our resumes with voluntary positions, we will be seen as lazy or unambitious. We also know that internships and work experience provide us with insight into the industry that we are so eager to worm our ways into working.

Working for free is not only expected of us, it has become the norm. Gen-Yers are giving it all up and many don’t care because of the delusion that everything will be beneficial in the long run.

However, there will come a point when you will feel taken advantage of, when juggling your job and extra responsibilities will take its toll, and the long nights and weekends will seem insufferable.

Yet, many of us still trudge through the sticky mud of unpaid work in the name of “paying our dues.” We’ve been taught not to give ourselves away freely in so many aspects of life, such as dating, so why is it okay to be so loose with our skillsets?

Calculate how much all of your services would be worth in the real world; when I did this, I could not believe the amount of work I had given away for free. What on earth was I thinking?

When you give it all away, you will never be able to put money aside for your savings, children or a pretty Pinterest wedding. A “thank you” from a supervisor won’t cover your rent, and without the promise of a paycheck, it can be difficult to conjure up the enthusiasm to do the work well, anyway.

Additionally, your self-esteem will definitely suffer as employers discredit your work by deeming it to be worth little (if any) monetary value.

I’ve been doing free work for years, particularly after I graduated from college. My resume is chockfull of this kind of experience, and I keep telling myself “one more free article” or “one more free blog” and yet, in the absence of paychecks, it’s all wishful thinking.

Waitressing and retail jobs will only pay for so much. We all know exposure and free work provides little more than another line on resumes, but people like us need all the help we can muster. Sure, do a little for free, but don’t suffer because of it.

We have all given something away. But, it should not come at the cost of our livelihoods or the destructions of our self-worth. Get paid or die trying.

Photo via We Heart It