As a member of the Millennials, I’ve heard over and over again that this isn’t our parents’ job market. Just the other day, my friend’s mother apologized to us saying, “you’ll be inheriting quite a mess.” Let’s be honest, while the worst of it may be felt years from now, everyone is affected in the present.
I remember thinking about my mother’s career relative to my own. When she completed her Bachelors, she had a six-figure salary as an engineer. And, by the age of 25, she had a child and a home. Many of my friends who graduated from UC Berkeley were looking for jobs for up to 6 months post-graduation. Some even found themselves settling for positions that they could have gotten with a high school diploma. Quickly, those who thought that they’d be on the fast track to a successful and fulfilling career, were forced to re-evaluate. The economic shift has not only created more obstacles along the path to financial stability, it’s changed they way that my generation views marriage, starting families and purchasing homes. A good friend of mine came to the realization that she might not be in position to have kids until age 35 - which isn’t too late, just far later than she’d hoped.
But with all of these hardships, there is as always a silver lining. There may be more obstacles along the road, but I would also argue that there are more avenues to get around them. These new routes to success however, aren’t paved, many of them are overgrown with weeds and it’s our job to prune them. Now, more than ever, people are encouraged to innovate. Pursuing a career that requires inventiveness and entrepreneurial action isn’t always stable and this may be daunting to those who look for security. But when I hear friends, strangers, colleagues or family members lament about the lack of opportunities, I have to remind myself of one thing. In my mind, one thing is for sure; this new economic climate will be kind to those who are optimistic and capable of thinking outside of the box. Will Smith’s quote that, “being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity,” has always been true. But today, being realistic may lead to something less than mediocrity.
Yesterday, I read a great article: “How I Became My Own Mentor in a Freelance Economy” by author, Courtney Martin. At 32, Martin discusses how she’s never had a traditional job. And, while this was a path she chose, some of her friends have had to adopt the same ‘freelance’ lifestyle against their wishes. Martin details a wonderful array of how she’s adapted, how establishing a personal mission statement has proved a helpful guide, and how she learned to accept that her career path would require that in some ways, she function as her own mentor. Her article is well worth the read, even if you aren’t and don’t expect that you’ll be a ‘freelancer.’
So, if you find yourself down or stressed out about professional opportunities, try thinking outside of the box.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.