Gen Yers Aren't 'Lost' in the Job Market
I wish I could put an end to the influx of articles labeling my generation as “the Lost generation.” Yes, there are millions of 20-somethings and 30-somethings out of work, according to just about every news source (including The Washington Post), but I wouldn’t label them “lost” because of that. What has been lost other than job opportunities? I think the job crisis and recession has made people more motivated and hungry to explore new alternatives. And make no mistake: There are plenty of opportunities out there to pursue.
So instead of depressing you, my fellow Gen Y’ers, with more statistics on the decrease in available jobs and increase in 20-somethings living with their parents, I’m giving you an array of opportunities to consider if your future is still undecided.
First off, consider volunteer opportunities. For a comprehensive list of program descriptions, check out the article, Doing Good, to read about Teach For America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and more. All of the programs listed provide great opportunities to earn money, gain invaluable experience, and discover new passions such as teaching, environmental science, or international affairs.
If none of the paid volunteer opportunities interest you, check out the unpaid ones. (That is, if you can afford it.) The Public Service and Volunteerism page on usa.gov supplies a list of internships, organizations, and volunteer associations looking for help. Don’t think that you’re not gaining anything from volunteering. You may not be getting paid, but you could be networking with great contacts and helping communities in need. That’s something to feel good about—and something employers value.
There is always the option of staying in school. Okay, so that might require taking out more loans and racking up more debt, but a master’s degree just might be the smartest next step on your career path. Grad school isn’t for everyone, though, especially right out of a four-year college. If you’re unsure of returning to school, read the article Should Grad School Be Your Plan B for help deciding whether it’s the right path for you.
On a final note, don’t feel defeated by the news, seeing yourself as just another member of the “lost” generation. Not having a job doesn’t make you “lost”—it just means you need to be smarter, a bit more creative, and open-minded as you plan the next—or first—step on your career path.