The other day while I was eating a turkey sub at Larry’s, an eccentric woman asked my brother Jared, “Are you boys twins?” This is the magic key-phrase that sparks all conversations with strangers. Suddenly we were engaged in a conversation about jobs. She went on to suggest, “You should follow a geological team on a dig. You know? See the world.” There was another woman with her who had a son, conveniently a geologist, and her advice to me was, “Go back to school and get your masters. B.A.’s are a dime a dozen these days.”
I shrugged my shoulders and nodded. I wanted to say, “My $25,000 education has landed me NO jobs, so I should go back to school and get in more debt?” Maybe she thought it was a compliment to say my 4 year education of hard work was “A dime a dozen.” Is that printed on my diploma?
My point here is everyone loves to offer up advice, but few to none are willing to actually help. (Except my family, who has been very supportive.)
There is a separation between this generation and the job market both literally and fundamentally. The older generation has the reigns, offering jobs on an out-dated “ladder system” to those with (3-5+) years experience, meaning there is a group of 20 somethings facing this truth: society sends you off to spend 4-6 years of life training for a work force that isn’t willing to take a chance on you.
With the catch-22 of “experience – opportunity = stalemate,” the only options are entrepreneurship or swallowing the fact that your life experience and personal development are the most valuable rewards you take away from college, only they came with huge financial debt.
The older generation’s philosophy is, “Get a job. Even if you hate it. Pay your dues, and then something will happen.” (And when they say “pay” they mean it quite literally.)
I have watched my friend Collin, who is an education major in her first year of grad school struggle with an ill-prepared Masters program. She is completely ready to teach in a classroom setting this very moment. The University that facilitates her Masters program is unorganized, unsympathetic, and in my opinion an unethical money making scheme, keeping great teachers like Collin performing ritualistic hoop-jumping, which is the backbone of these outdated systems. It’s as if suffering for success is perpetuated and even purposefully fabricated.
The most frustrating part of this is there is a generation of driven, passionate, creative, and independent thinkers of Millennials and members of Generation Z, who are the first humans to grow up in the age of cell phones and social networking. We have evolved under this technology firsthand and therefore have the most comprehensive understanding of how humans function with i-phones or Facebook or Instagram as a part of our everyday lives, which is invaluable to the workforce.
Driving in my car the other day I said out loud to God, “I feel wasted.” And I think this generation shares the same frustration. We are organic and multifunctional in nature. We are prepared to adapt and are equipped to work together as an ecosystem rather than a machine driven by cogs.
When acquiring money is more important than finding individual purpose, we create a monster that eats people’s lives, thwarting the creative soul.
Instead of the cry,”I feel wasted,” I want to be heard saying what I truly mean: “I have something incredibly valuable to offer.”