This Is Not Your Parents' Job Market

For some reason, being a millennial has become synonymous with lazy, complainer, or whiner. As a millennial myself, I feel the need to complain and whine about this, but I am usually too lazy to do so.

In reality, the world of a millennial is substantially different than the one that previous generations have experienced. Where a university degree is almost meaningless and the job market is flooded by multiple generations of experience, it is incredibly difficult for a recent graduate to find a job. So I want to take today’s blog to talk about what my personal experience has been like being a millennial in the workforce today.

Let me start with what I went to school for so we can get the judgement out of the way. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political sciences. Originally I started in biomedical sciences, found that I was disinterested in it, and eventually landed in political sciences. I absolutely loved my degree, and the classes I took and information I learned were by far the most interesting things my brain has ever absorbed in an institution. I would not trade my degree for anything. But there are a lot of people out there who think that, because I had no interest in science or business, that I set myself up for failure right from the beginning. But I have a multitude of friends who were in those fields who can’t find a job in it or have to go back for another four years to actually do what they want. The problem does not lie in what major we chose.

I mentioned this previously last week, but I want to again now: when I graduated, I spent four months being unemployed. I sent out literally hundreds of job applications, only to get a handful of interviews where I was competing against people in their thirties who had already worked the same role in that same field - and that was only the people that is only counting the people I actually met. Eventually I went to a job fair at a local hotel and managed to get a customer service job. It wasn’t meaningful, but it kept me busy and put money in the bank.

I kept applying for jobs while I worked there, but nothing came of it; I was excited to be doing something, so my applications became fewer and fewer. Then I saw a job posting for RBC Royal Bank - Canada’s largest bank - specifically for recent graduates. The application process involved an essay and three rounds of interviews, but I powered through it all and landed the job: a one year paid internship with RBC. The job had three parts over the course of the year, three distinct roles that I would be taking on. The first was six months with a branch, the second was three months being seconded (aka paid to work for) to a registered charity, which just finished last week. The third part of the internship meant working at a regional office working on specific projects. The internship itself is called the Career Launch Program, an initiative specifically designed to get real work experience on the resumes of recent graduates.

When my internship is over, I will do a blog about the whole experience. For now, however, I want to focus on why my job even exists.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that most of my generation will not make more money than our parents. We are more likely to find work through contracts that don’t come with the perks of permanent employment. We are likely to not be offered benefits, only a handful of us will have part of our retirement savings matched, and all the while we will be clawing and biting at each other for those coveted positions.

My internship ends on January 20th. This realization dawned on me rather abruptly last week. It made me realize that I am facing that world again, albeit with some more experience. I looked at job boards and found listing after listing of jobs that I am not qualified for, jobs that seem meaningless to me, and I realized that the future could become very bleak once more.

There I go again. I am justifying my laziness with complaints and whining. Does it even matter if they are proven facts?

The thing is, though, that like almost everything else in our lives, the job market is changing. It would not make sense for technology and innovations to so drastically alter our lives and not have the same effect on something we spend the majority of our working day on.

So I have to find something to do after January 20th, but what will that be? Looking at those facts, facts that I have read repeatedly, I don’t just see doom and gloom. I see the opportunity to try things that my parents never had the chance to do. I see the opportunity to become an indie author, a blogger, to work to support what I love to do, not work so I can have two days of fun a week. I see that I have opportunities to travel and work, or to network with people who live halfway around the world. I don’t know if it is relentless optimism, but the idea of the traditional career path being disrupted is not something that scares me. Doing something that I love and supplementing it with work, even if it is contract work, means not taking the same train to the same job for the next 45 years.

And some of my peers will do that, and some of them will love it and become very successful. But I am a millennial, and this is an entirely different world. I can choose not to do it, to pursue the path that I think will make my life meaningful. In this job market, we can choose the path we want, and our only limiting factor is the amount of work we are willing to put into it. So tell me, what will you choose to do?