Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lost or Traveling?

People think that millennials move around so much because we are lost and still trying to find our way. Obviously, this is partially true, but it's also a bit hyperbolic. "Trying to find your way" does not necessarily mean you are lost. My own post-graduate journey took me from the Appalachian Mountains to a resort town in Michigan and finally to Chicago. I didn't make these moves because I was lost and blindly grabbing at whatever opportunity I could find. In fact, most of my friends who have moved multiple times in the past four years have done so with an ultimate goal in mind. This goal may not be a definite tangible thing, but at least we're on a paved path.

My first post-grad move was for a job. I was lucky enough to land a well-paying seasonal gig with the National Park Service right out of college. Unfortunately, an emotionally unstable supervisor who was also my roommate and had an irrational distrust of twenty year olds quickly made my life pretty miserable and caused me to learn how to write my first Letter of Resignation. I moved back home, found some part-time jobs, and remained there for nine months before moving for yet another seasonal job at a resort town in Michigan. My next move was to Chicago for an unpaid internship (about the only type of position where you can get hired out-of-state).

For two years in Chicago, when employers looked at my resume, they commented on how much I had moved around. I tried to explain not wanting to live at home and how a seasonal position was the only way I could land a guaranteed job without taking the risk of moving first, but nothing seemed to help. All the HR managers saw was someone who, for the past few years, held jobs for 6-9 months before moving on to the next opportunity.

What was frustrating is that I felt like I, and all millennials, had no choice. Once out of college our only real option is a part-time job in retail, food service, or maybe as an administrative assistant. Are we expected to keep these jobs for years? Did these hiring managers really think it was more professional for me to keep balancing part-time positions at Talbots and the Holiday Inn Express rather than accept a 38 hours per week seasonal job at a luxury hotel on Mackinac Island (a job that also provided room and board, I might add)? It turned out, once I was in Chicago and out of the seasonal employment game, without years and years of experience at one job my options were limited to the Gap, Caribou Coffee, and more unpaid internships.

My situation was not unique. Most of my friends spent their first few years out of college moving from town to town and transferring from job to job. Some went the seasonal/unpaid internship route like me, while others tried moving to the city of their choice first and finding a job second. A handful stayed at home and tried to get a job from there, but were still forced to move from part-time position to part-time position (because part-time jobs do not always come with the best managers). They, too, faced the same discerning eye from hiring managers when they applied for full-time positions. What I always want to say during these interviews is, "Don't you think I would have stayed if I could? If any one of those had been a full-time job with benefits, don't you think I would have stuck around?"

Millennials are often criticized for our lack of work ethic and not holding down jobs for very long. I think this has less to do with work ethic and more to do with trying to make the best out of a lousy economic situation. Sure we could stay in one place, working at Starbucks and as a dog walker for years, or we could also keep looking for another job that may pay more or just simply be more enjoyable. Do I feel slightly ashamed that since college most of my jobs have not lasted more than a year and a half? Of course. Do I feel bad about each decision that ultimately (after almost three years of struggling) awarded me with two fulfilling part-time jobs in the city of my dreams? Not at all.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Millennial in the Making

I want to start this blog because I want to talk about what it's like being a millennial. Not the millennial that most people think about: the stereotypical "woe is me the job market sucks and I can't get a full-time job in my field" millennial. Personally, I have never met this millennial. Instead, I want to talk about my kind of millennial: the twenty/early thirtysomething year old who is spending their life moving around, trying to find a job and find their way, and is taking their hardships in stride. I am going to talk about the millennials who have found the economic crash and dwindling job market to be a burden, but not a roadblock.

I also want to talk about what it's like to be a millennial nowadays. From dealing with the negative stereotype of not growing up as fast as the Baby Boomers did to having to constantly change your life to make ends meet, trying to make friends once you're no longer in school, making the decision to go back to school, and learning to be an adult at a snail's pace (side dishes with dinner -- what is that?).I want to talk about what it's like to be a female millennial and the political and social pressures many millennials face.

This post, however, is just to say welcome! I hope as you follow this blog you find it insightful, but, most importantly, entertaining. Please feel free to leave me comments or shoot me a message.