As Baby Boomers move swiftly toward retirement Millennials are primed to take over. Let’s take a glimpse into how things have been going for three young adults navigating the challenges of a 21st century workforce.
Up first: Mike. Mike was a pretty typical high school student: good, not great, mostly A’s, a few B’s, some AP classes. He played a couple of sports, worked as a lifeguard and was accepted into several decent colleges. Mike majored in business, did well, not great, got a little scholarship money and a work study job. When he graduated, he owed just $20,000—not bad! It should be noted that Mike’s college did offer him the opportunity to spend just one more year with them and get his Master’s Degree. It should also be noted that his college informed him there were no jobs available so he might as well just stay in school and earn another degree. Mike’s parents declined to spend the additional $34,000 and told Mike to get a job.
Job #1: Mike’s older sister found it for him. A “burner” job where they don’t expect you to stay long. He set up independent medical appointments to investigate insurance fraud. Pay: $14 per hour. Lesson: life is not all roses.
Job #2: The market is hot! Mike could almost taste his dream of becoming a millionaire at 35. With the rental market in Boston exploding, Mike became one of many smart young men and women posting the same listings on Craig’s List and hoping to be the lucky winner: show the apartment and close the deal. All commission. Mike stayed two years, but he got his real estate license and a taste for the big city.
Job #3: Mike used his winning personality to score a series of interviews before settling on a company that found doctors to cover for other doctors when they went on vacation. No commission for six months, but the office boasted a decadent and lavish social life. Mike lasted six months and one day.
Job #4: Better. Better than better— job number four was great! Through a friend, Mike talked his way into becoming a project manager for a solar company. All those crappy jobs had finally paid off. Now he ran around coordinating installations of solar projects—paperwork, measurements, engineers, inspectors, customers—he did it all. He did it well. He got his contractor’s license so he could advance. Finally, Mike was on a roll until… Corporate showed up and closed down the whole office. The US market just wasn’t as profitable as they had hoped. Mike had been there three years.
Luckily, by job number five, Mike had solid experience and was able to land another job as a project manager, this time with a well established company. He loves his job, for now. There isn’t much room for advancement and Mike has no firm career plans, but his college debt is paid off. After 10 years in the work force Mike says he will never be chained to a desk again. Money is important, of course, but a flexible schedule and freedom rank even higher.