Help Wanted: Coming-of-Age in a Recession Can Shake Our Faith
Most millennials will tell you: We're never not looking for a job. Recession-style insecurity is our new normal. We live in an age where it's not uncommon for college-educated adults to move back in with their parents or work multiple part-time jobs.
While everyone in the work force deals with pay freezes, layoffs, and furloughs in this economy—and certainly, those setbacks can be harder financially on workers raising a family than single 20-somethings—our generation probably won't ever make up for it. Over their entire careers, those who graduate during a recession make less, save less, and get promoted less often than those during a boom, Marketplace reports.
That certainly feels true to me. Four years out of college, I was laid off for the first time this year. I wasn't particularly surprised or distraught, since it's become such a common experience (particularly in my field of work), but it did feel like my hard work had proved fruitless. I decided to switch gears in my career, and in many ways, it feels like I'm starting over. I worry that from the outside, the change makes me look unfocused and flighty.
"We can't regard the employment issues of millennials as character issues," wrote Michelle Van Loon, speaking from a Boomer perspective that some complaints about younger generations are misplaced. And that is certainly true.
But, we also show and build character in how we confront our employment issues. Depending on our approach, we can wallow in uncertainty and disillusionment, growing bitter. Or we can accept it as a lifelong adventure and "count it all joy." Or we can offer up countless YouTube parodies and snarky memes. That's all up to us. Our problems are not that different from those of past generations, but they do manifest differently. We have to look for new, creative solutions.
"We graduated into a recession, and 90 percent of the jobs created since 2009 are part-time. But let's be honest: We just don't like hard work," says the sarcastic narrator in one of those recent videos parodying the criticism of our generation. "But we do text too much. Eugh."
The instability of today's economy contributes to that sense of constant distraction older generations accuse us of, our indiscriminate texting and the delayed commitments. We are a generation establishing ourselves on shifting sand. We undergo a continual identity crisis as we switch jobs and careers, move cross-country for a shot at a "better economy," face exhaustion from keeping an eye on job boards even with a full-time job, and deal with the constant pressure to learn new skills on our own time just to stay ahead of the downturn.
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