After months of being unemployed, I recently started a new job. I work in television, so jobs come and go as often as clothing trends. You constantly need be on your game to stay afloat.
During my first week of entry-level busywork, I was asked to do something that sent me into such a spiral of depression and hopelessness that I felt like a "True Detective" character.
I was asked to help my boss send an email.
It didn’t seem weird, at first. I’ve been asked to do stuff like that before. Being under 30 generally means that, at various points, you will be called out for being “good with computers.”
And, for some reason, being a high-level producer in television goes hand-in-hand with having the computer skills of a platypus.
However, this time it got me thinking: Why does my boss, someone who’s worked in television for over 20 years, not know how to send an email?
Email is nothing new. It’s not like I was asked to help sync Twitter to a printer, or hack into the NSA mainframe. Email has been around since the early 90s. It's been around longer than Viagra, but for some people over 40, it remains a mystery (unlike Viagra).
Like I said, I’ve started many new jobs. The nature of my business is you’re always freelance, even when you’re not; TV shows never last forever.
And, for a guy like me, a recent graduate in his early 20s, every job is precious. Every job should be a step forward in your career.
But lately, it hasn’t felt like that. It feels like every time I start a job, I’m at the bottom of the barrel and trying to claw my way up.
Do I deserve a higher-ranked position? Not necessarily. I understand you have to earn responsibilities, and you have to make a name for yourself. You have to show you can be trusted with the basics before you’re in charge of more than that.
However, in an industry where jobs are so temporary, it’s easier said than done. Every couple of months, it’s like you hit a reset button, and you’re back to being the low-ranked, low-paid new guy.
So, it can be frustrating, and it's even maddening when the jobs above your head are taken by people who don’t know how to send emails.
As Millennials, we send emails every day without even a moment of hesitation. It’s not considered a skill. It’s just a part of life.
Knowing how to send an email is like knowing how to use a toaster. No one ever taught you explicitly how to use a toaster; you just saw bread, a button and bread-sized slots, and you figured it out from there.
So, I don’t think I’m being ridiculous when I say it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair Millennials have such a hard time finding employment.
We make up about 40 percent of the unemployed people in the United States, and that number is steadily growing. We’re young, educated and ready to get to work, but the majority of us can’t.
There are many reasons for that — some of them political, some of them sociological — and I’d bet it's mostly due to the fact jobs aren’t moving.
Baby Boomers are retiring later and later, with 36 percent saying they plan to retire at age 70 or older. So, we get shuffled around from entry-level job to entry-level job, while an older generation sits relatively stagnant.
Are we the most skilled workers in the world? No, of course not. Many of us don’t even know how to make decent scrambled eggs.
Being good at what you do comes with experience. Getting ahead in your chosen field takes years of dedication and hard work.
I get it; it’s not just about being able to send emails.
But as I sat at my desk, having just taught someone with a six-figure salary how to do something I honestly thought everyone in the world knew how to do, I wondered when I would actually get the chance to put those years in.
Would I get the chance to climb the ladder, or would I be stuck at the same level indefinitely, answering phones and stocking fridges, while the people whose jobs I want got older and older and more confused by basic technology?
Would the job market just stay where it is forever?
I thought about my student loan debt piling up and my rent due next Monday. I thought about the world traveling I’m apparently supposed to do in my 20s, and the “figure myself out” time you hear so much about. Would I get to do any of this?
I wondered and wondered, and I spiraled deeper and deeper.
Then I got up, had a cup of coffee and realized everything would definitely be okay. In time, I would get the chance I feel I deserve to prove my worth. We all will.
We’re all smart people who live in a world of progress and forward-thinking. Millennials (if that is what we want to call ourselves) are going to be fine. We know how to send emails, so we clearly already have a leg up. It’s just that right now, we’re in a tough spot.
Now, I’m going to take a deep breath, listen to some music and try to un-spiral myself.
If I could just get my damn record player to work. Honestly, does anyone know how to use these things?