While the government was on shutdown, I was worried. I came of age into a recession, couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and stalled on plans.
I have seen friends ascend from the ashes of the recession landing entry-level positions that poise them on the road for a successful and fruitful career. I have also seen many friends fall, and land hard, and not be able to land proper jobs even with a great résumé and tons of experience.
If that second crash might have happened (and I’m not entirely sure we’re out of the woods yet), what would have continued to change?
I’m not blaming my hardship on the recession, but I know that it has shaped the way my generation entered the workforce. It has shaped the workforce for every generation that is employed currently. The workforce is still dealing with adversity, especially as times shift and industries change or die out completely.
The song I was sung by the peers and teachers in my life was that if I aspired to go to college and got good grades, then I would have a happy and successful life. Well, I graduated high school in 2007, and the next year the economy was awful. I was living in Kokomo, Ind., at the time and I couldn’t get a job at McDonald’s (the go-to job people suggest when you’re down on your luck.)
I eventually was hired a month before I was scheduled to move back to South Bend.
A little over a year ago, NPR aired a story on the program “Tell Me More” interviewing Joel Kotkin on his piece in Newsweek/The Daily Beast called “Are millennials the screwed generation?”
In the NPR story, Kotkin said that recent college graduates “are growing up in a terrible economy that’s generating very few jobs. So, they’re stepping in it, if you will, economically.”
“They’re going to inherit an enormous debt that they are going to have to pay for,” he said.
In the original Newsweek article Kotkin outlines one reason that younger people are having more issues in the professional workforce.
“Their indebted parents are not leaving their jobs, forcing younger people to put careers on hold. Since 2008 the percentage of the workforce under 25 has dropped 13.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while that of people over 55 has risen by 7.6%,” the article reads.
Could we really take a second round of this as a generation? I’m sure some of us could, but I’m not sure that everyone could.
Graduating with an Everest of debt is already hard enough, but to enter into a further strained work environment? While I’m glad that the government is coming back on at least partially, and avoiding another certain disaster financially (if only barely), it was one of the few close calls that gives me a little heart attack about the future.
If one thing my classmates and I were taught in school is for certain, aspiring to change the world might be a more important and pertinent goal than we realized before.