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. Last week we met Mike who graduated from college and spent ten years moving through a series of jobs learning life lessons from each.
This week meet Amy. Amy was “that” high school student: all A’s, top tier, lots of awards— beautiful, artistic, articulate, exhausted and stressed. High school passed in a blur of achievements, but she won the race and was accepted into a top ranked university. Majored in Psychology. Graduated with no student loan. Her university told her she would never find a paying job and they encouraged her to stay for an additional two years to earn her Master’s degree, recommending she plan to intern—unpaid— for several more. Her parents declined to spend an additional $100,000 for the graduate degree or have anything to do with unpaid internships.
Job #1A Amy found a job working with autistic children. They were adorable and challenging. They needed her. Pay: $14 per hour. Lesson: Not enough to make rent.
Job#1B By switching from a clinic-based to a home-based center for autism training, Amy could work as a nursery assistant two mornings a week. Still not enough to make rent.
Job#1CDog walker. Exercise for pay. She had to get up really early, but the dogs didn’t need her to talk. Rent, but no car payment.
Job#1D Bartending on weekends. Party for pay. Whew, finally she could support herself! But she felt like she was back in high school—beautiful, artistic, articulate, exhausted and stressed.
Amy stuck it out. She got her Applied Behavioral Analysis certificate and earned a little more. She gave notice and then earned a little more by working the same job per diem. Working with the kids brought joy to her heart, most of the time. When a child spoke for the first time it was magical. When she got bitten it was not.
Four years later, a car accident caused Amy to change her mind. There was too much stress to work the four jobs necessary to make ends meet. Amy knew it wasn’t going to get much better. To make more money she needed to either leave the profession entirely or give in and go back to school. This fall, Amy is headed off to Grad School. This time on her own ticket which will leave her approximately $100,000 in debt. Oh well, she will just think of it like a mortgage: one more payment she will have every month. Working with autistic children is important work.