Generation Y is talented, education has never been as accessible as it is today. Yet we feel lost and under valued. The need to be original has never been so important in the ever competitive job market of today, and an undergraduate degree is certainly no longer the key to standing out. Quite simply you are not the one in a million. The resounding feeling from Generation Y is perhaps one of disappointment, once the thrill of graduation has evaporated. Before I went to university I was told by members of the baby boomer generation that a degree is a ticket to good employment. I beg to differ, for it appears times have changed.
One must be so much more than merely intelligent, you are required to be pro-active, a team player and techy savvy… the list goes on. These are all buzzwords that appear on CV’s or in interviews. Work experience needs to fill every spare moment and references must be glowing. Not everyone can boast to have spent his or her summer holiday in an office (even if just making tea – does it matter though if the company name looks good on the CV?). Equally those who have little interest in technology past social media find themselves living a little white lie, momentarily juggling the moral dilemma before remembering a job is a job (after all… ‘How hard can it be?’). How can we, in Generation Y, be original? Especially when there is a plethora of boxes that need to be ticked for one to even be considered in the job market.
This is no cry for pity; it is what Generation Y is, a homogenized section of society with big dreams, all struggling to be unique but limited employment opportunity to even gain an iota of experience. Those who manage to evade this problem are the people with interests and passions so extreme; yes extremists are the individuals who stick out. Subsequently we are a generation that needs to be innovative and entrepreneurial to create new spaces for ourselves in the professional world. Those who are lucky enough to have a talent that has allowed them to be distinctly unique are the eye-catching and intriguing individuals. To be able to stand out from the talented Generation Y is understandably someone worth taking a look at.
This is disheartening for the majority of Generation Y, what if you are just a member of the crowd? (Please do not take offence – but most of us are). I have a wide array of interests but consequently little direction. I regard myself as capable and with a good degree, but apart from – of course – my sparkling personality, it does not make me stand out. What makes us stand out is that extra bit of volunteering, that unpaid internship. However, if the bank of Mum and Dad is no longer open for business, then how many of these unpaid or low salary jobs can we really afford to take before we sack the dream to go and work in a job that we probably could have done as a school leaver. What was the point of those three years at university that have now resulted in not much other than the burden of debt?
I think every unemployed graduate has for a minute contemplated whether or not university was really worth it (but probably not much longer – as the reminiscing of the golden days restarts). Particularly if skills learnt in some degrees do not have a direct relevance towards specific careers and addressing student debt. I would fiercely argue (although with bias, based on my own good personal experience) that university is an important learning curve for young adults. However, from a ‘freshly-graduated’ perspective, there is the realization that some skills learnt throughout your degree do not readily translate to the real world. This is not the fault of the universities, but the misconception of enthusiastic (yet naive) undergraduates who are inspired at the time that their degree will equate into employment.
This is where Generation Y is unfortunately disillusioned. At this point one cannot help but look to the previous generation, may I remind you of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s 1997 speech Education, Education, Education. No wonder our parents, teachers and politicians have installed inspiration in Generation Y to go to university, with genuine belief of future career success as a result. This is just not a reality for tens of thousands of graduates in search of jobs or careers. It seems rather glum but it is not all as dire as I have illustrated, in many ways we do have great opportunities open to us via the internet, social media and recruitment companies. The disappointment derives from the expectation and hope that has fallen through, resulting in a fear of the unknown.
So here we are (in the UK at least), Generation Y, a workforce which is well educated, underemployed and in a significant amount of debt. True, this is not news to us, but what has not been found is the solution. The enthusiasm for the future has become tainted as reality sets in, not only for dread of what lies ahead but an agony that the best 3 years of your life for now are tucked behind you. Somehow Generation Y needs to fit in to the professional world, we do not want to be that person still making the tea in 5 years time, my advice to companies is strike whilst the iron is hot – we are yours for the taking!