Millennial Misery: Young, Talented, Educated and Unemployed!
They're probably the best educated and most technologically savvy generation to enter today's work force, but they can't get a job.
The group of young graduates known as "Millennials" are finding, much to their surprise and frustration, that their unique skills don't give them much of an advantage in today's crippling recession.
The so-called "Millennial Generation," those born in the 1980s and '90s (ages 18 to 29) are now entering the work force as the first generation of American workers since WWII with more dismal prospects of landing a job than the generations that preceded them.
-- See average salaries of jobs for workers age 18 - 25.
The current recession is hitting everyone hard, especially in their wallets. However, Millennials are feeling the pinch perhaps more than most. Although the overall unemployment rate in June was 9.5 percent, for those ages 18-24, the unemployment rate was 15.3 percent. Unemployment among ages 35-44 was 7.8 percent; 45-54 was 7.5 percent; and 55 and older was 6.9 percent.
When you compare all those figures with the rest of the unemployed also seeking work, you note a marked difference tilting against the Millennials.
A bleak outlook
According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, unemployment among 18- to 29-year-olds is the highest it's been in three decades. The bleak job landscape has also forced these younger workers to compete heavily against Baby Boomers trying to save for retirement and Generation-X workers who have homes and families to support.
The dim outlook has forced many highly trained young people to consider other professions or volunteer work and, in growing numbers, prompted many to move back home with their parents. For many young people, the unsuccessful job search and its consequences can be extremely frustrating.
Boston resident Clairemise Montero, 23, is pursuing a career in promotions and public relations. Like many of her generation these days, she too has found it necessary to move back home while seeking full-time employment in her chosen field. However, despite the obstacles Clairemise and her friends are encountering in this tight job market, she remains optimistic, maintaining that the keys to eventual success are persistence, optimism and faith.
"You really have to maintain a positive thought process," Montero said. "Despite the grim economy, you can't just sit on the couch and expect a job is going to come to you. It all depends on the individual; but for me, maintaining a positive outlook is very important.
"There are many young people who graduate and get frustrated when they get out into the real world," Montero added. "It's definitely more challenging for many of us to find full-time jobs these days, but you have to keep yourself exposed to any new opportunity, and continued networking is also very important."
Still, Montero concedes, she may have to look outside her preferred field in order to find work: "You have to explore different avenues and step out of your comfort zone. Some of us may have to consider careers that are not related to our original plan and try something different."
For her, that "something different" may involve returning to school to get her master's degree to improve her marketability.
However, even that option of additional education holds few guarantees of employment. A large percentage of highly trained young people often find their education to be a drawback amid the highly competitive chase for fewer available jobs. Many are deemed overqualified for certain hourly-rate jobs they apply for to simply make ends meet.
Applying for jobs? Find out what they pay.
Still, despite the recession's difficult impact, optimism and ingenuity spring eternal for this group of young people. Many are seeking an alternative path while awaiting their big break. Here are some options:
1. Go to grad school.
You'd be in good company. Recently, the Educational Testing Service reported that last year, more the 675,000 people registered for the GRE tests. That's a 9 percent increase from 2008.
2. Use those Web skills to create your own job.
Some Millennials are using their internet savvy, creativity and ingenuity to become online entrepreneurs and create their own unique niche or business. Helping older professionals with social networking, for example, can be very profitable.
3. Try another internship.
Half of the class of 2008 had been an intern at some point in their college career. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the share of those entering an internship as a possible gateway to employment increased to 52 percent by 2009.
4. Volunteer your way into a full-time job.
An estimated 8.24 million young people, ages 16-24, volunteered in 2008, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. That's approximately 441,000 more than in 2009. For example, The Peace Corps reported an increase of 18 percent in applicants in fiscal year 2009 after more than 15,000 young people volunteered for service.
Neil Howe, author of a series of books about the Millennial Generation, says young people these days are "more likely to take an unpaid internship, classes or free consulting -- something that advances their goals".
Next: Gen Next on the Job
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