Life is crazy. It’s even more so for all of the Gen-Y’ers leaving their college campuses and trying to make it out of their parent’s basements as soon as possible. The cards our generation has been dealt are horrific. It’s like we’re playing Blackjack and hitting 22 every time. Jobs are more than scarce; they’re nearly nonexistent. The level of education needed to be most qualified for the job market is too expensive.
Growing up is feeling more and more like a scary trap rather than a right of passage for millennials. Our parents told us, “If you go to school, make good grades, and work hard, then everything will be alright,” but this is no longer the case. Real life met most of us when we received our high school degrees. We had to choose whether we would pursue degrees that would leave us indebted for most of our lives, or if we would give the alternative a shot, which was a path that was even more uncertain.
Those of us who chose to forgo college education have avoided the pitfalls of student loans, but are finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet in a job economy that’s greatly lessened the value of a Bachelor’s and high school degree. Some of us who chose to attain a college education have found ourselves in a peculiar position where our professional growth has been halted because of massive student loan debt and the fact that opportunities are just not there. The salaries are absent, but our financial obligations are very much looming.
In the midst of all this turmoil and uncertainty, we also grapple with a real, rancid truth. That part-time job we took to pay the bills or boring major we picked up to ensure some financial stability has no direct relation to what we really want to achieve in life. Growing up, we never thought we’d be responsible for filing a company’s financial reports or posting their social media content. We thought doing the right thing would surely be enough to command a real living wage that would allow us to save pennies for our future from month to month.
Truth is, getting the grades and working hard is not enough. Applying for jobs and going on one interview after the other is not enough. The job economy is changing forever. Automation and corporate frugality are taking more jobs from a whole generation of educated workers. Continued labor fragmentation will eventually bring us to a point where work will be compensated case-by-case. Expertise will drive the job economies of the future.
Knowing this, it’s time for Gen-Y to become collectively responsible for its future and follow its dreams. There’s one skill, one trade, that we each claim ownership and mastery of as individuals. It’s time for us to invest in these skills and become our own enterprises. It’s time for Gen-Y to drive its own economy with knowledge from within. We can no longer lean on the corporate structure to provide the financial stability our parents and grandparents once had. If we want the dream, we have to go out and get it, and there are more tools available now than ever before to help us to do it.
The Internet is an invaluable resource that allows us to continue to deposit knowledge into our expertise without the expense of formal education. Federal agencies, like the Small Business Administration, are encouraging the expansion of startup businesses because they recognize our economic future as a society depends on small business success. Fundraising platforms like Kickstarter have opened the door for millennials to share their ideas with the public and drive financial support to achieve their goals.
The time is now for us to detach ourselves from the vision our parents painted and accept the reality that things may never be that way again. We all have dreams, and now is the best opportunity for us to strive to reach them. We are at the end of a great recession and looking forward to an even greater renaissance of technology and ideas that will springboard us further into the future. Gen-Y will carry the baton forward, and each one of us has the opportunity to be apart of this progress. All we have to do is fully commit to the pursuit of our dreams.
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