The over-educated, idealistic millennial: Real struggles from a Gen-Yer

Photo by Baim Hanif on Unsplash

Okay. Let’s be honest. Most of us have been too idealistic when we were in college while sulking about low grades and instructors. We used to believe that if we just do good in school, get high grades, and earn that degree, employers will be lining up for us like we’re some superstar (Won’t that leadership award count?). And just because every time we look at our dog while those cute puppy eyes stare back at us and tell us that we are the best human ever doesn’t mean that the whole world see us the same way too.

We were all too dreamy to be finally out from the educational system and explore what’s out there for us – to be that change the world needs. Not until we get confronted by resumes and agonizingly wait for a job acceptance that we begin to question our self-worth. (Here’s a blog post I wrote about Job hunting: waiting, rejection, and acceptance). We begin with such high standards for prospect companies that after weeks of hearing nothing from any of them, we start to panic and slowly resign to the idea that no one will ever take us in (any company will do by now).

Having no job means we do not generate income (how much more for paying rent) and so we are left with no choice but to go back to our loving family of course! We’re just glad that they’re happy to have us back (or are they?). So while waiting for employers to finally notice our applications, how should we make the most of our time while living back with our parents?

Living back with the parents

The moment we wake up from our beds the day after our graduation, back in our parent’s house, we begin to ask ourselves, “So what now?”. We could easily get back to our routine like the entitled child we were being under our parents’ care but let’s be frank that we couldn’t live like total dependents anymore right? We should try to live like responsible adults here. Here’s Erin Lowry on how to be productive while staying with our parents for free:

> Do every favor that’s asked of you, because you are a free loader!

> Proactively handle errands your parents would be more than happy to off-load.

> Keep your room clean if that’s your parent’s preference.

> Respect your parent’s schedule.

> Don’t ask for entertainment money.

> Be nice! Don’t revert back to being a sullen teenager (you’re a twentysomething now).

Broke Millennial

However, there might be emotional issues that arise because we get to live with our parents (whether we are fresh grads or working professionals). We feel limited with what we can do and we often feel like we are becoming their personal slaves in the house (joblessness and/or entitlement could really make our self pity creative). In this case, we must learn how to abide in their rules because #TheirHouseTheirRules.

Then out of a normal day we get to receive a call (Finally!) asking us to be at this date and time for an interview! And say we get to finally have that job we’ve been waiting for. We are so excited to be off and say goodbye to our housemates (a.k.a. parents) and embark in this new chapter of our lives as a grown-up (or at least trying to be).

However, when the week’s luster of having a new job comes to a close and all the excitement finally dies out, we begin to ask ourselves questions (like most of us millennials do) if this job: ‘is the right one for us‘, ‘is the one we see ourselves to be working in five years from now‘, ‘embodies our values’, and ‘insert a common millennial question here‘. And then give it at least three months that we begin to play around the ideas that: ‘this job is boring‘, ‘I am starting to hate this job‘, ‘I am not happy here anymore‘, and ‘insert a common millennial job remark here‘.

No one owes you a great career, it argues; you need to earn it—and the process won’t be easy.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

When we begin to see that there is no opportunity for change in the current work environment we are in, we never have second thoughts whether to explore other jobs available or not in favor of the former (Did you just update your resume while you were in your office hours?). Maybe job-hopping is a Gen Y thing but a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that Gen X job-hopped in their twenties too.

So if this job-hopping then is normal for twentysomethings like you and me, how should we spend our time and vigor in looking for that right job for us?

Becoming the person for the job

When I graduated college, what I am afraid of was to be defined by a job because I was unable to define myself (like what I am actually good at). I call myself a generic college graduate without having any outstanding skill others don’t already have. I don’t see myself having any competitive edge. Just get to imagine that each job already has a mold. If we don’t have a definition of ourselves, we will have no choice but to turn ourselves according to the mold that job dictated for us. That is why I decided to specialize in order to finally have an identity and match that identity to jobs I think would support my desire for growth. I never thought that what I was doing is building my “career capital” until I stumbled upon Cal Newport’s book and I quote:

“If your goal is to love what you do, you must first build up “career capital” by mastering rare and valuable skills, and then cash in this capital for the traits that define great work.” 


So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

I think that what’s more important is that we should not let our job define who we are because if we do, we will just keep on looking for that ‘perfect job‘ and end up with frustration if we won’t be able to find it or if it won’t be able to meet our expectations. We will never learn to love the job if it is just a one-sided kind of relationship where we are just there for the taking. Rather, we must already have this definition of ourselves so that we will be able to ask the right question which is: “What is it that I have that I can offer to this job?“.

We should remember that mere talk of all the things we want to achieve is useless – it will get us nowhere. It is hard work that prepares us to opportunities.

If you work hard at what you do, great abundance will come to you. But merely talking about getting rich while living to only pursue your pleasures brings you face-to-face with poverty.
Proverbs 14:23 TPT

As young as we are, we must invest our time and vigor in acquiring valuable skills so that we become that change we aspire to be. By doing so, it becomes easier for us to actually love our jobs. I suppose there is no such thing as the right job for us but we can be the right person for the job.

Wrap Up

The transition to adulthood is quite a big leap for me but I think every transition is. We just have to enjoy the process because we never get to live the same way twice, do we?

  • Living back with the parents. We must always be grateful that our parents are willing to support us as we begin adult-ing. With or without a job (yet), they are still our parents so we should respect them. #TheirHouseTheirRules
  • Becoming the person for the job. I think it is a general rule that we get paid by the skills we have. Acquiring additional skills may require our time and effort but in the end, it will be a reward in itself.

Happy adult-ing everyone!

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