Jobs and Millennials

Scott Nicholson needs a job. Or so reports the New York Times in a recent article. The problem isn’t that Scott can’t get a job. It’s that Scott can’t get a job he wants. Here’s one situation that lead to a job offer he turned down.

It was in pursuit of a solid job that Scott applied to Hanover International’s management training program. Turned down for that, he was called back to interview for the lesser position in the claims department.

“I’m sitting with the manager, and he asked me how I had gotten interested in insurance. I mentioned Dave’s job [his older brother who makes $75k, this job offer was for $40k] in reinsurance, and the manager’s response was, ‘Oh, that is about 15 steps above the position you are interviewing for,’ ” Scott said, his eyes widening and his voice emotional.

The article documents the lamentations of a self-described “hard worker” as he searches for his first real job, post-undergraduate education. It seems two realities are hitting him hard while avoiding the third.

  1. His expensive undergrad degree and good grades didn’t earn him squat.
  2. Even though his parents are connected, there’s no high paying job waiting for him post-graduation.
  3. He has no debt, his grandparents paid his way through school, and his parents are footing his kennel fees indefinitely. This is a blessing and a curse.

What I find interesting is this desire to hold out for the right job. Scott would rather not work than work a job he doesn’t like.

It’s not just Scott who does it. It’s kind of an upper-middle class phenomenon in America. College graduates hold out for a dream job that doesn’t really exist. Meanwhile, hungrier and harder working students trying to climb the socio-economic ladder continue to take more advantage of a system that rewards hard work… thereby disadvantaging lazier, idealistic, rich kids who are looking for a fast-forward.

It’s a cultural disadvantage facing the suburbs right now. Somewhere, somehow, they have bought into a lie that pursuing the American Dream is easy. And a good job is their birthright.

A trip into American history only reveals the opposite to actually be true.

I wrote last May that there was bad news coming for the suburbs and Scott’s story only adds an illustration to the point. The problem isn’t that there aren’t jobs. It’s that there aren’t jobs that recent graduates are willing to do.

That’s two separate problems.

Don’t be a moron

  1. Life is not a made for TV movie. We’ve never lived in a country that grants recent college graduates wishes for easy street. If you want the American Dream you have to do it just like the next guy… you take it.
  2. You are not Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, or one of these 20 year old billionaires. See, they didn’t just wake up billionaires. They worked their butt off and earned billions of dollars with their good ideas. But it also took time, they got lucky, and they are smarter than you.
  3. Starting at the bottom is not humiliating. It’s the only strategy that works. See, the economy depends on people starting at the bottom and working their way up. Likewise, how else will you learn? It’s not like college prepares you for the real world.
  4. There’s nothing wrong with chasing dreams. Heck, I’m still chasing the same dream I started pursuing as an 18 year old! I’ve come pretty far– but I’ve still got a ways to go! But understand that the chasing of dreams can take a lifetime of steps in the right direction while avoiding many pitfalls. If your life were a novel, it’d suck if you reached your goal in chapter 1.
  5. Desperation is the key ingredient to success. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told parents… the best thing you can do to your post-college graduate is to stop feeding them, stop paying their bills, and make them either pay a real rent or kick them out. The smelling salt of items 1-4 above will never be accepted until a person wakes up to the reality that they are the ones who have to make something happen. If they don’t hustle, they don’t eat.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

12 comments

  1. Even when I finished college ten years ago more and more grads were staying at home and holding out until they could get a job that would earn them enough to live at the same level of lifestyle they were used to in their parents’ home – they weren’t making the connection that it took their parents decades to get to that point. We’re definitely becoming more and more entitled and not realizing that it’s something worked up to, not handed to us.

  2. I absolutely agree with this, especially the feelings of entitlement my generation brings into the job market (I’m one of these relatively recent college grads).

    A little pushback though, from personal experience: in my first ministry job after college, the lead pastor and elders used the excuse of “he’s young and has to get his feet wet, just like everyone else” to basically use and abuse me and several other young leaders in our church. E.g. when I asked elders for health insurance for my family and was refused (despite the church’s ample income), I was told that every young leader “just has to deal with it.”

    Now, I’m ultimately a better leader for my experience, but I want to communicate value to young leaders without promoting the entitlement culture. College grads need to work hard and have a long view of their future, but older leaders–both business and church–can’t overlook or abuse the younger generation in order to teach them some sort of life lesson.

    1. Yeah, we shouldn’t confuse earning our knocks with abuse of leadership. I think that’s a great challenge for those wanting to enter church leadership… finding a church that is healthy who is willing to make the investment.

  3. Great post, Adam! I love the last five points. Totally rings true from my experience with myself and other millenials. Thanks for the kick in the pants. Trying desperately to not be a moron…

  4. Great post Adam!! i have to say that is one of your top 10! However, you forgot to include your name alongside Bill Gates and Zuckerberg!!!
    Gonna forward this to our College ministry leader.

  5. Excellent post. And “Christian” college graduates are not immune to this. I recruit church planters and have found that most seminary graduates are expecting to make more money planting their first church right out of seminary than I make after 17 years in the field. Not gonna happen!

  6. Hi, Adam. I sort of stumbled upon this by following a link from somone else at another Christian site.

    Wise words.

    I taught in public schools for 27 years and I always tried to get my students to understand this mindset…..

    The world owes you nothing because you get a college degree. Nothing. Getting a college degree is not paying dues of any kind. Spending ten years at the bottom of a job and expending mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energies making that “bottom” a fruitful and meaningful place – THAT’s paying your dues. Someone, eventually, will notice that.

    It’s you that owes the world something. By the time that you graduate from college, untold amounts of money have been spent on you by other. Others have fed you, clothed you, given you medical attention, educated you, loved you, disciplined you, given you guidance that led you to a career choice, motivated you, and for some of you, brought you to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

    You owe the world. You need to go out there and do you dead level best to live in gratitude and to repay tenfold all the graciousness that you have received thus far. Make your corner of the world better. Make it more meaningful and treat all others – whether in lower station or higher station than you – as someone who is a friend.

    The world owes you nothing. There is nothing that the world can give you – unearned and unmerited – that is of lasting consequence anyway. But, what you, through your gifts and talents can contribute to the world, is infinite. And when it’s done in humility, gratitude, and not in self-centeredness – what you contribute is of infinite value.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: