Not a day goes by when I do not see a news article claiming the Generation Y are the "lost generation" -- more recently, the "screwed" generation -- or members of this age group bemoaning the lack of work currently available, splurging their discontent all over my Facebook feed.
The thing is, I understand it. Qualifications and numbers on a piece of paper only get you so far -- and if businesses are not investing in their employees, there's no financial backing to be had to hire, or your local store has just closed its doors for the final time, there is little on offer.
Rousing speeches, political assurances of an "improving" situation, sending out CV after CV and looking sheepish in the job centre can get old rather quickly. Suddenly, it seems that qualifications and work experience go against you. In a volatile economic climate, cheaper is better, and if you do recieve a response from your bordering-on-desperate application, it is that you're "overqualified for the position".
So, if no employers can offer work or training, how else can a member of the Gen-Y make ends meet?
This is a question on the lips of many a young person attempting to enter the workplace. The Miami Herald made the point that by 2025, roughly 75 percent of the world's workforce will be part of this age group -- yes, the ones fed on a steady diet of iPads and an over-inflated sense of entitlement, sorry. Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding told the publication:
"Gen Y wants to rip apart work styles and create new relationships with the office that are more flexible."
While some studies and opinions point the stereotyping finger at Gen-Y as a gadget-laden spoilt group of kids moaning at the lack of job choice available -- while sneering at the 9-5 rat race -- has anyone considered that this predicted change in working patterns may in fact be enforced by the current climate?
The change in social climate and expectations -- leave school, find a job -- may have promoted choice, but now it has also resulted in a vague understanding of what it is to 'work'. Some are lucky in securing a job quickly, but when the pickings are lean, there's nothing wrong with taking an alternative path.
Not everyone can afford to take on an unpaid internship, make the tea and seduce a manager into offering full-time work, so if the mounting pile of rejection letters is making your head spin, where else can you look?
Within weeks of the recession hitting UK media, I lost a teaching position that I had been in since completing university. For over a year, I maintained a room independently and sent out CV after CV -- only managing to keep afloat by two shifts in a cocktail bar a week which barely covered the rent.
Rapidly eating away into my savings, sending out and following up on roughly 15 CVs a day, I eventually realized that unless I was willing to move back in with the family units, my lifestyle couldn't be sustained much longer.
So, I did what anyone in their right mind would do -- I went abroad instead.
After applying online, having a ten-minute Skype interview and landing in Madrid a week later, I managed to scrape a living in bars and teaching English, before returning to British social 12 months after deserting -- tail between legs -- as costs mounted and the economic situation in Spain resulted in lost job number two and a lack of private students.
So, what was next?
It was 2 a.m. when I was dispondently scanning job vacancy websites and a thought struck me. If I can't get work through a company, why not create my own?
For a long time, until a random encounter resulted in a lucky break, hastily self-taught website design aimed at SMBs, graphic design, illustration and translation provided the bread and butter. It meant often working until the early hours, dry spells of living on 30 cents noodles and the occasional tear-filled rant at the latest 'AOL crowd' client to send me an email telling me they couldn't access their email -- but it had to be done.
The point is that Generation Y may be a little different from their predecessors -- but just as the generation before them were. The advantage many of this age group currently has is fewer ties -- not necessarily required to provide for a family quite yet, and distinct in their knowledge of social networking and how to use it to their advantage.
There are a number of things that can be done though online networks to break away from the traditional 'job seeker' mentality. From setting up a business toting a particular skill to using Twitter to interact with leaders in the industry you want to enter, the Internet is a valuable tool that perhaps not enough people are using to their advantage while job-seeking. It may not always be palatable, but if the effort is put in, perhaps you can get a little further than waking up to rejection emails every morning.
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Stereotypical "senses of entitlement" aside, it is up to this generation to make their own lucky breaks. The same story -- simply new tools. It is easier thanks to the Internet to find a job elsewhere -- on a global scale -- and relocate if need be. Our mindsets may be considered different to Generation X, but perhaps the global financial situation is going to spur these changes on even further.
Whether we like it or not, the current economic climate may enforce our 'requirements' of flexibility and thinking in a different way.
Image credit: UCL Occupation