Why Millennials are Creating their Own Jobs
It’s time for some truth and explanation
Okay, you caught me– this article is about me, and I’m not a millennial. I’m actually quite proud of the fact that I’m a “Xennial” (someone born between 1979-1982 who spent the better part of childhood without technology- but got it in time to learn it while they still could adapt as a pre-teen), but I guess for the purposes of this blog, we can say that I’m close enough. I’m definitely in the category of people that I’m talking about today, which are enthusiastic entrepreneurs who have become tired of living paycheck to paycheck and have taken matters into their own hands.
You see, I don’t have a “real job”. What I mean by “real job” is the standard, legitimate job that comes with your name in a phone directory, and if you’re super lucky, a plaque on the desk or door. This can include a variety of positions, and has nothing to do with salary or education. This could be the kind of career that your parents might brag about, like a doctor, rocket scientist, or lawyer, or it could go all the way down to an administrative assistant at an office who simply has her own cubicle, phone, and benefits, which your parents still may brag about. Especially because of the benefits. And while it absolutely terrifies my parents (and anyone over the age of 50 who cares about me) that I don’t have a “real job” and real “benefits” — I’m here to explain why it’s been absolutely necessary to create my own jobs, for the following reasons:
- Today’s economy sucks — I’m not going to get into politics and presidents, or any of that, but I think we can all agree that it’s tough today, and it’s probably tougher than it used to be. My father is an automotive technician (he runs his own shop now), and my mother is a teacher (she has a doctorate now), but although they’ve made extreme strides up the career ladders in their 40+ years working, they’ve both had the same career their entire lives, as have most people I know of that age. They introduce themselves as technicians, teachers, plumbers, scientists, accountants, or whatever it is that they have identified with for their entire working lives. I apparently missed the boat on the “career” thing out of college, and that leaves the starting salary jobs. If I had a minimum wage job, I’d be making $7 whatever an hour, but even if I had a “nice” starting salary, I wouldn’t be making enough to pay my bills. Which brings me to point #2.
2. The cost of living is ridiculous – This is probably similar to point 1, but I feel like it deserves it’s own point. It’s not just about how much we make, but how much we have to spend. I wasn’t around when my grandparents were my age, but I have to imagine that they probably had a mortgage, a car note, and utility bills, as well as the costs of raising their children, and that was probably it. They definitely didn’t have car insurance that was $250 a month, because of millions of people around the world who have ruined it for the rest of us with their careless driving and accidents, many caused by texting. They probably didn’t have $900 a month health insurance (I don’t, but some do). Their children went to public schools. I’m sure they didn’t have cable that was so astronomical that most Americans are trying to find ways to cheat the system with a fire stick or internet TV. Speaking of, they definitely didn’t have to pay for internet. Before I get too preachy, because that’s not what this is about, it’s on to point 3.
3. Our benefits aren’t the same as previous generations — I’m not sure of the exact statistics anymore, but I remember a couple of years ago I looked up my social security benefits, what I was paying every month, versus what I would claim when I was of age. And I found out that the system would likely run out of money, due to baby boomers, before I turned 63 years old. And here’s the kicker: It will likely run out of money THE YEAR BEFORE I turn that golden age. So, for my entire life, I will be paying money into a system, only to have it pay everyone else, and run out when it’s my turn. It might not be quite that literal or that dramatic, but most of us 30-somethings have realized that we aren’t guaranteed social security, or any kind of retirement package, for that matter. Some of us are super lucky, but most of us fall into that “good luck” category.
In fact, as of yesterday, the New York Post reports that Social Security and Medicare will run out even faster than previously expected, in 2026. I’ll be 44. If you’re not good at math, that’s just 8 years away. Which is the reason why:
4. We are sick of making other people rich — I have been in positions where I made $10 an hour working for a company that made MILLIONS a year, as a direct result of my own hard work, and I have done this more than once. Eight of ten times I’ve been in this situation, I was berated, abused, not given the correct amount of breaks, and even yelled at for using the restroom during work hours, no kidding. So, it’s really disheartening when you work for someone who doesn’t compensate you fairly, who also treats you unfairly. There are some amazing companies out there in the world who have Christmas parties, bonuses, fair wages, kick-butt break rooms, and more– but unfortunately I haven’t seen too many of them personally. And it’s kind of a lottery system, you can luck into an awesome boss, or you can’t. Which brings me to:
5. Our educations aren’t doing what they promised — If you’re an aforementioned doctor, lawyer, or specialist, this probably doesn’t apply to you, but there are many of us who aren’t using our degrees (mine is in Psychology and Criminal Justice). While I’m extremely appreciative of my college education, my degree, and what it brought me– I’m not using it in the way it was intended, and I know I’m not alone. Most of my college educated friends work in the mall, at Starbucks, or in office jobs that have nothing to do with the education that they received. I have a couple of friends who have graduate degrees who work in positions that have absolutely nothing to do with their field, one even works at an institution that’s the exact opposite program of what her bachelors and masters were in. I’m going to go out on a limb and estimate that of my friends with degrees, over 75% of them are working in fields that have nothing to do with what their degree is based in. The Washington Post actually reports this figure at 78%. And don’t even get me started on student loans. I just read a piece today by a USA Today contributor, that “Student Loans have become our modern-day debtors prisons.” I couldn’t agree more.
I’m not complaining.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining. My life is wonderful. I have wonderful parents, friends, and relatives, and the best partner I could ever ask for (with an amazing family that comes along with him). I’m just trying to explain why many of us have 7 jobs instead of one. And why we must either struggle to succeed, or resort to the fact that we’ll probably be stressed out for the remainder of our working lives.
I have so many friends that are uber drivers, in addition to their day jobs, or uber drivers and hairdressers. Don’t even get me started on the work-from-home direct-marketing companies like Vantel Pearls, Mary Kay Cosmetics, LipSense, Avon, Beach Body, and everyone’s friend & enemy, LuLaRoe. I absolutely long for the day where I can go longer than 7 days without a “friend” trying to hustle me on Facebook, in a not-so-clever marketing pitch haphazardly buried in a message asking me how I’ve been after 20-or-so years. I’m not judging, y’all do what you have to do, and I have purchased some of your products (usually from people I have seen more recently). Some of my direct marketing friends have retired their spouses, they’ve been extremely successful at their hustle. It is what it is.
And so we have learned to adapt
Parents, grandparents, baby-boomers, generations above us– don’t be afraid. We may be in fight-or-flight mode, but we are not giving up! Don’t mistake our lack of real jobs as us being lazy, trying to get out of doing work, or trying to avoid commitment to a real profession. We have a problem: we aren’t making enough money to live the lifestyles that we want, and we have learned to find a solution to fix this problem. You should be proud of us, because we’re doing what you taught us to do– use our brains, and make money the honest, American, hard-working way, and not by doing anything illegal.
And in a way, we’re all managers. We make decisions every single day to operate our own businesses, and in a way, we are all the CEOs of our own companies. You should be so incredibly proud of us. You’ve made us exceptionally strong, you educated us, and now we’re using those tools to go out into the world and make our mark on it.
For those of us who are succeeding, at least partially, the benefits are awesome.
- We have the flexibility to make our own schedules — We are able to be there for our friends, our partners/spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends, and in some cases our children. This also means that we are available to help you older folks with your TV, VCR, and Internet troubleshooting during the day.
2. We are able to see the world — Because we have flexible schedules, we are able to travel more. In many cases, some of us (especially in my case as a freelance writer and blogger) can work from anywhere– so it allows us to travel as frequently as we’re able to financially. This gives us unique experiences we may not get chained to a desk 300 days a year.
3. We are gaining all sorts of real life skills — We haven’t used much of our algebra or geometry, but we use Photoshop, Social Report, and QuickBooks every single day. We need these to run our businesses, and are grateful that they serve us in a variety of different needs. We don’t turn in TPMS reports, but we’ve learned how to ask others for help, in some cases hire & fire people to help us, and we’re constantly mastering conflict resolution in relationships with clients.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s scary to go out into this world as a freelancer — which is why I never ever take it personally when someone asks me why I don’t get a real job. I appreciate their love and concern.
The entrepreneur life is not for everyone, and it doesn’t always work the first time. I’ve had businesses close, including a brick-and-mortar. I’ve failed, but I’ve always learned from my failures. I’ve always been grateful to have a support system to help me when I needed to be picked back up, but I’m resilient, as are many others out there.
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I’ll leave you with this story that was shared with me in one of my business plan classes, along with a statistic:
In the 1800’s, our world existed in a barter situation. Most people were iron workers, farmers, or whatever– and they traded their goods for the goods of others. They were all, essentially, entrepreneurs. As the machinery started being invented and patented to help industrialize, all of a sudden everything was flipped upside down. Instead of 80% of folks working for themselves, and 20% working as assistants, now 10% of people owned everything, and 90% worked for them. That figure has gradually balanced out over the last 100 years, but we’re seeing a rise in entrepreneurialism that everyone is talking about.
By the year 2020, over 50% of Americans will be their own bosses, and entrepreneurs will be the majority by 2030. It’s your choice now to decide on which side of that statistic you’d like to fall on. I’m not suggesting at all that you quit your day job, but maybe it’s worth thinking about hobbies or side jobs you can pick up as a part-time freelancer to insure a solid financial future.
In strong design and entrepreneurial spirit,
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