Ask most Baby Boomers about their career track, and they will mention one or two positions that they held for many years. They might talk about how their job “took care of its employees,” and how “it just isn’t like that anymore.”
Job security, fair wages, and a pension plan were prerequisites for job acceptance to the average baby boomer, but millennials take a far different approach to their careers. Generational shifts of labor and changes in industry have introduced a new kind of career path to 18-30 year-olds. Millennials must be ready to embrace it, or forced to settle for it.
A recent study by the Pew Research Study found 66% of Millennials plan on switching careers at some point in their work life. 84% of Baby Boomers intend to stay at their current job for the rest of their working life. Six in ten full-time employed millennials say they have already switched careers at least once.
Reasons vary from interest in multiple fields, unhappiness at previous employment, and lack of available jobs in a field of choice. Some are willing to take jobs below their skill level to pay the high costs of college loans and ever increasing rent.
Twenty-year-old Alyssa Alarcon recently moved to Boston from Southern California. Alarcon completed part of a degree, and hopes become a writer. This dream seems far away, as she no longer has the funds to continue her education. She is in training to become a server at Uno’s to “pay the bills.”
“Jobs these days are geared towards drifters. No one stays at a job very long and no job makes an effort to keep its employees because they’re so easily replaceable now,” she explained.
The recent recession has affected decision-making process for many millennials. Competition is high for jobs. Laid-off professionals around the country choose to work lower-wage positions that were formerly filled by a younger work force.
The jobs offered to our parents are simply not the ones offered today. The technological age has drawn young adults to tech start-ups, non-profits, science research, teaching fellowships, and entertainment. According to Freelancer.com an online market trends press release, 2011 saw the rise of a new generation of Web 2.0 entrepreneur based on about eight thousand postings.
While the jobs of the past remain, new job descriptions leave Baby Boomers without the skills to perform, and millions of young adults vying for newer, underpaid positions, or trying to create their own in the event of a void.
Twenty-three year old J Matthew Nix lives in Chicago, where he started his own record label, Swerp Records LLC. He left Emerson College after three semesters, unable to afford the high tuition. He forged his own path by entering the professional world.
Nix points out the divide between jobs and careers.
“Jobs are available, but careers aren’t, and there’s a lot of pressure to not get locked into a career you don’t want. I don’t know how some of my peers are going to find the careers that they expect – arts, journalism, media; these careers are disappearing and being replaced by full-time freelancers…”
When thinking about the differences between our parents’ generation and ours in terms of ideology, Nix weighed in,“We don’t trust in the safety net that our parents did, the ‘social contract.’ We don’t know a world where a company will fire half of its workforce just to boost profits for their administration, and we don’t know a world where investments don’t disappear at the drop of a hat. There’s a survivalist, fend-for-ourselves mentality…”
As millennials struggle and thrive during this shift of industry, economics, and ideology, we have to wonder, “Are we better off than our parents?”
The ability to shift from job to job freely leaves our career possibilities open to opportunity, but does not provide strong security.
Nix admitted, “Those in my generation who aren’t willing to work hard and work smart are going to be stuck near the bottom of the ladder for a very long time.”