A Millennial Blog for All

Check this out: Millennials are disenchanted with President Obama.

Not to sound like a cranky white guy (which I am), but it’s rightly so. Everything he campaigned on; everything he hoped the young generation would believe about him and his administration was a lie. Or perhaps the least truthful untruth.

As much as Gloria Borger, the author of this article, wants and wishes that Obama’s sanctioning of all sorts of eavesdropping to simply be an expression of his moderate attempt to play the middle ground between Republican love of defense and Democratic love of equality, it simply is not true. The Obama administration has, in fact, sanctioned ‘domestic spying.’

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http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/barackobama/ig/Barack-Obama-Cartoons/Obama-s-Second-Term.htm

It would appear that this, coupled with the anemic recovery, touted by nearly every liberal as ‘no small feat’, isn’t good enough for Millennials. My generation was willing to allow some leeway to a man we liked, but now that he has clearly overseen policies the majority of Americans, and Millennials, find reprehensible, it may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But these numbers should not be terribly alarming to his administration, however. They only would be to those who believed that the 66% of Millennials who voted for the president represented a new Democratic majority in perpetuity. These people, who were not terribly rare the first few weeks after the most recent election, are either liars or fools. Probably both.

Back to the original article, Borger states: “Now, I know this president doesn’t like some parts of his job. He doesn’t much like schmoozing members of Congress, despite his recent share-a-meal plan with assorted Capitol Hill types. He doesn’t like the LBJ-style strong-arming, either. He doesn’t much like the messy lawmaking process in which personal relationships can often mean the difference between getting what you want and getting nothing at all. And he doesn’t ever like to be pushed. Ever. No-drama Obama, remember?”

Yeah, we remember. It makes us all pine for the days when we had a president who would schmooze. Who would strong-arm. Who would shake hands and move things around to get something done. Remember the movie Lincoln last year? The very reason Spielberg made that movie was to teach the Legislative and Executive branches a lesson in working together. That was what Abraham Lincoln did. Everything this president will not do. He has always been a disappointment to conservatives. He’s just become one to independents. And he’s becoming one to liberals. And to Millennials.

But, there is a silver lining in all of our president’s faults, according to Borger: “But he does like speeches. He likes writing them, redrafting them, pondering them. He likes giving them, too — because he’s good at it.”

That’s exactly what we need! A speech! That will make all of this better. The man who should have been a speechwriter will make everything better.

Unfortunately, the only tonic that will likely make this situation better is a cold glass of better leader.

When the theme song of the Millennial Generation is about buying junk at a thrift shop, you might not be doing enough.

If you had to do it all over again, you would have, said 53% of Millennials surveyed in the substantive information in this article by Jermaine Taylor: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100727466.
 
I’m one of them. I majored in philosophy at a small liberal arts school. Given the opportunity for a do-over, I would have double majored in philosophy and something that wasn’t in the humanities, like biology or economics. And I would have gone to a larger school. Hindsight is 20/20, but foresight is pretty laughable. 
 
I didn’t consider things like employment rates or the economy when I when to college. Colleges are pushing back against results driven data, which is laughable and outrageous considering the grievous disservice they have provided the majority of my generation, particularly in conjunction with the tremendous amounts of money we (actually, our parents) have poured into their institutions. The most of us are flying blind when we graduate. 
 
This “should be an alarming call to action for all of us,” said André Dua, a director at McKinsey & Co., and lead author of the study. “We need to have a national discussion about how to better prepare students.”
 
All attempts to right these wrongs, so far, have been Band-Aids on arterial wounds. In an ironic twist, the current administration appears hapless when faced with such uncertainty, much like many Millennials.
 
That’s why it’s such good news that Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) for getting something started with the “Student Right to Know Before You Go” Act. It’s not a big enough gauze for that arterial wound I mentioned before, but it’s a promising start.

We have yet another article on the near disaster that is the Millennial economy, written adroitly by Derek Thompson. You can read it here, and I suggest that you do:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-unluckiest-generation-what-will-become-of-millennials/275336/

We’re putting it all off, folks. Marriage, kids, mortgages. All the things that were supposedly ‘The American Dream’ before now makes our skin crawl. Or, to be more egalitarian, it’s makes us nervous. Not because we hate these things, but because we are absolutely not ready for them. We don’t have enough money. We don’t have any satisfaction in our careers, should we be lucky enough to have one. (As you can likely tell from this blog and this post, I don’t have much of either.)

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A lot of us live with our parents. To quote Mr. Thompson, we are looked at as “Perma-Children,” and he makes the case for prolonged pessimism. He is correct that entertainment and other commodities have been greatly cheapened by the internet, but truthfully, who cares? It’s nice, but a good, independent, quality of life is nicer.

We are the unluckiest generation, economically speaking. We came into a workforce after the burst of the economic bubble that, in hindsight, was amazing in the sense that so few people saw it coming. Everything was either artificially too low or too high, and one day, it wouldn’t be able to maintain itself. The day has come and gone, and here we are.  

It’s the same narrative everywhere we go. Millennials are: The most educated generation. The least paid generation. We whine. We complain. We had great childhoods and our expectations were too high.

Valid points all. But no comfort is to be found. We are in the midst of a recovery, but it’s slow and anemic and one can’t help but feel as though the bottom could fall out from it at any moment. It’s tiresome.

We aren’t going to have as good as the Baby Boomers and Generation X. We know. We get. We won’t be able to make up the ratio of wealth. Perhaps it’s because the world is changing so rapidly that even we’re running to catch up.

There is, of course, optimism, but realism tends to get in the way.

There’s a certain sense of irony when a twenty-something feels nostalgia for his youth. But, without waxing faux-poetic about how our current mediocre economy and overall zeitgeist might contribute to my hungering for halcyon days, I still find thinking of my youth comforting. Before bills and jobs and aging came into play, we had the excitement of firsts.

Everyone remembers their first everything, usually, unless it was singularly awful, painful, or just truly unmemorable. Your first bike, first video game, first kiss, first car, first love. But what really encapsulates my youth, and by youth I mean high school-ish days, is music. Millennials are a particularly musical generation, you will find. Most of us can give you a ‘soundtrack of our lives,’ as pretentious as that sounds.

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I came to popular music later than most kids. I had never heard Pearl Jam orAce of Base when I was in grade school. (Guess my age.) Needless to say, I wasn’t the most popular kid at recess. This was mainly because my parents didn’t really want me listening to that type of music. To their credit, they acquiesced when they saw the encroaching tide wearing away at that beachhead.

But I still remember that first mix CD.

This mix CD came when I was about 15. I didn’t have a CD burner so I coaxed a friend into making it for me once day. I played it and played it and played it. There was a harmony to the selections I made; the order and the sound seemed to fit perfectly to me, and only me. Perhaps it was because 15 years worth of favorite musical taste actually became a physical playlist, but who knows? This mix CD would be, to most people (or at least, to most people above the age of 30), nonsensical in terms of taste. But Millennials are known to be eclectic in their tastes in music, predominantly because there is just so much music out there.

Even the way we receive music has changed drastically over the course of just the past twenty years.

The information age has seen a veritable glut of musical genres overwhelm our eardrums. AM and FM radio stations are the basic cable news of music, where the produced and paid go to sell oftentimes unappealing music. Millennials tend to avoid them. If they really wanted to speak to the most musically inclined generation, they would make eclectic mixes like we do on our iPods and laptops.

Like all generations, we are molded and changed by the times we live, just as much as we mold and change our times. Music is near and dear to us because it is ubiquitous. It’s on our computers, on our phones, in our cars. Technology and Millennials will be forever intertwined, much as war and Generation X were. Come to think of it, we’re the first generation in a long time to not be affected by the horrors and realities of war. But that’s another post altogether. We follow the trends of music without realizing it because long trends are typically only noticed on a subconscious level, if at all. As Millennials, we loved MTV, Nirvana, nu-metal, east vs. west coast rappers, the Beastie Boys, N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears.

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Napster came along and changed how we received our music. We could download just the songs that we liked without buying the whole crap CD! And we didn’t have to pay for it! Sure, it took an hour to download one song over a 56K modem, and God-forbid anyone call the house phone. But, once we got that taste of freedom, we never wanted to let that go.

On to the brilliance of Steve Jobs and Apple, which created the iTunes store and the iPod, and made what we’d been doing for years awfully convenient and legal. Jobs’ genius was to be able to get nearly every major music label to agree that their artists’ songs were worth $.99 a pop. This quelled our fear of being imprisoned because the music industry was mad at us for downloading “Mambo #5” without paying them tribute.

Nowadays, Millennials are often at the source of the popularity of musicians. We tweet them, they tweet back. We help them go viral, land gigs, make money. We do things like crowdsource and crowdfund. Look at Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and Psy and “Gangnam Style.” Music videos have become events now, as they once were when MTV debuted. But now, we skip that middleman-ness MTV brought to the table and get these four-minute musical shows right from the artist’s YouTube page. I couldn’t possibly prognosticate where it’s going to go from here. Which makes me nostalgic for the days when there were barriers between me and my music, when I felt like I was getting away with something when I downloaded the Pink Panther theme off of Napster.

But back to my wonderful mix, which I called Genesis Blue, because it was my first mix ever (how clever of me), and it was a blue Verbatim CD. And, while the CD is now too damaged to be played, I still have the playlist. The res of what made it… it. I listen to it not just when I’m feeling nostalgic. I listen to it when I’m sad and happy. I made that CD right around the time I got my first pet – a tabby cat named Virgil. He’s passed away since then, but it makes me wistful for him every time I play it. Another part of my childhood, gone. But never forgotten.

The Genesis Blue track list:

The Best is Yet to Come (Theme from Metal Gear Solid) by Aoife Ni Fherraigh

Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby by Barry White

Just Dropped In by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition

What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

If I Were A Rich Man by Chaim Topol (sung by the character Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof)

Mast Qalandar by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Massive Attack mix)

Amistad Main Theme by John Williams

Thank You by Dido

Another One Bites the Dust by Queen

Minority by Green Day

Intergalactic by Beastie Boys

Asshole by Denis Leary

Life’s Gonna Suck by Denis Leary

Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat theme) by the Immortals

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Come As You Are by Nirvana

Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down

Enter Sandman by Metallica

Blast by Kid Rock

Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck by Grinspoon

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A little late, but here are my 2013 New Years Resolutions. Very fitting considering my age bracket.

 

1. Be on time for things. I don’t like to be early for things that I don’t want to do. Which is an extraordinarily selfish attitude. Perhaps the action will change the attitude.

2. Stop saying ‘No problem’ in response to ‘Thank you.’ People don’t care that what I did for them wasn’t a problem for me. ‘You’re welcome’ suffices much better as a response for a reason.

3. Stop being ironic. Irony is used improperly by twenty-somethings as a way to avoid the uncomfortable truth of things. This will be painful. But eventually useful.

Hopefully I will be able to make these resolutions into habits. What did you resolve to do? Hopefully something more than eating more kale and buying a gym membership you’ll never use.

 

This is gonna be a doozy. The mother of all elections. At least until 2016.

Yes, the election season is upon us. I just figured I would tell you on the slim chance that you A. hadn’t been bombarded with political ads, B. aggravatingly partisan coworkers, family, and friends, or C. live in Alaska (which is probably a combo of A and B). We have about a week to go before we all select a new President, or keep the old one, as the case may be.

Our generation, the Millennial generation, is often called ‘entitled,’ and with good reason. We grew up in very prosperous times. The Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II years were more or less good to us and our families. There were small recessions, of course, but nothing as compared to the Great 2008 Collapse. Now, we’ve gone from the Entitled Generation to the Unemployed Generation.

As a result, many of us have gone from being told that we’re special and excellent to having to move back in with our parents and work retail and food service jobs after college. Quite a blow to the ego, wouldn’t you say?

President’s comin’ for your vote!

In regards to the election, even though the financial disaster occurred during the last year of the Bush Administration, many people feel that President Obama has had more than enough time to make things better, and he has not done that. Millennials, too, are feeling dejected by the man we fell in love with four years ago. Then Senator Obama and his campaign mobilized the youth vote to nearly unprecedented levels four years ago. However, at some point between November 4th, 2008 and today, Hope and Change became We’re Doing the Best We Can Right Now So Don’t Ask Questions and Trust Us. Not exactly the soaring rhetoric we expected at this point.

Mitt Romney would appreciate your vote. Now.

But his challenger, Governor Romney, appeals to Millennials in only a roundabout way. He does not speak specifically to us, like Obama did in 2008. When he does, he references creating more jobs for all of America, referencing his not-insignificant résumé at doing so. He also makes reference to the notion that America should not create more debt and deficits for generations to pay off in the future.

That rhetoric affects many Millennials, particularly the older ones who’ve been dealing with a bad economy for some years now. Both men talk about getting America back to work by creating jobs, and helping us find jobs once they’ve been created. But it’s not just whether or not we can find a job in the next few weeks.

We are genuinely concerned about Social Security, and whether or not we’re paying into a system that we’ll never be able to take out of. We are genuinely concerned about the amount of debt our country has acquired, and the range of entitlement programs, and whether or not the bottom will fall out on us. We are genuinely concerned about health care, believe it or not, and whether or not Obamacare is actually going to help or hurt us in the long run. These are the long-term issues we are becoming increasingly aware of as we age.

As for voting patterns, Millennials have a tendency to be socially liberal, but are increasingly identifying ourselves as fiscally conservative. This almost certainly is a direct result of four years of a sub-par economy. This also means that social conservatism and economic liberalism are fading from the purview of Millennials as viable philosophies. Obama, while socially quite liberal, has been anything but fiscally conservative. Romney, on the other hand, appears to be quite fiscally conservative, but socially all over the map, depending on the time of day.

This has been the most negative campaign cycle I personally can remember. (As a Millennial, I haven’t been around for many; the first one I remember off-hand is Clinton/Dole in 1996, which was pretty docile with all things considered.) As a student of history, I know that this isn’t the most vitriolic ever; John Quincy Adams/Andrew Jackson in 1828 was particularly disruptive to the point where it was likely that it killed Jackson’s wife. Michelle Obama and Ann Romney seem to be doing just fine thus far, as families have (thankfully) been considered low blows in politicking for some time now.

But never before has there been so much money spent making someone else look less palatable than the other. And Millennials don’t get down with that as a rule. Millennials, and voters in general, don’t care for negative attacks and name calling. And we certainly don’t get down with candidates spending a billion dollars each attacking each other while we work minimum wage jobs paying off our student loans and car insurance. Unless you are a strict partisan, these sorts of indignities don’t work on you.

Pretty much standard.

In a recent TRU (TeenResearch) poll, more Millennials are moving away from traditional politics, finding themselves turned off by Democrats and Republicans and their handling of government and the economy, and each other. Instead, Millennials are increasingly more likely to drop out of the process and complain on Reddit or Facebook. I made that last sentence up myself; it has nothing to do with TRU. It could be because Millennials really have fallen out of love with Obama, for a variety of reasons that are mostly rational (the least of which being that he’s no longer ‘cool’). But truthfully, all the mudslinging in this election turns off all non-partisans and non-believers, not just the Millennial ones.

So who will win the Millennial vote this time around? After all is said and done, President Obama will. Even though I just stated that Millennials are becoming more and more fiscally conservative, the simple rationale that young people tend to be (and therefore, vote) more liberal in general, and grow more conservative as they age, is still just as true as ever. 66% of voters under the age of 30 voted for Obama in 2008. While that number figures to be somewhat less in 2012, it will certainly break Obama’s way again.

Having said that, this blog is not intended to tell you who to vote for. You need to decide that on your own, and hopefully you will take into consideration more than just blog entries in the backwoods of the internet. But all of the Millennial concerns I mentioned here are true. Neither candidate has been an inspiration during these tough times. But you do need to participate, and choose the one who will be more likely provide the foundation for economic stability in the long-run.

Some good news came out of the Pew Research Center the other day:

http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/10/23/younger-americans-reading-and-library-habits/

Millennials are reading books! And a good deal more often than their predecessors, Generation X. Additionally, they’re more likely to use libraries than the previous generation, for more than just movies and music. (Which, incidentally, is a terrific perk; where else will I be able to get the entire discography of Boz Scaggs for free?) This information flies in the face of the perception of Millennials having the attention spans of newborn puppies.

It’s a book of campaign promises.

Interestingly, Millennials do enjoy e-books, but not at the expense of physical books. This is a relief to those of us who wouldn’t know what to do without being able to use a dust jacket as a bookmark, or who would pine for the smell of old paperbacks. We see e-books as providing the benefit of saving room; they prevent us from having to find room to stow a book on a long trip, or even on a subway ride. Why bother when you can read one on your phone?

Additionally, there has been a push recently to replace hefty, unnecessarily expensive textbooks by placing the information on e-readers. (E-readers are any electronic devices that allow the user to read an actual book – it can be a Kindle or a Nook or an iPhone or a tablet, for example.) This makes sense, as the information in these textbooks is often replaced within a year or two by new editions. As long as it’s possible to reduce the exorbitant costs, then it will likely be a worthwhile endeavor.

But what could account for this trend toward auto-didacticism occurring in a generation that has been derided as not being able to read anything longer than a tweet (or a short and sweet blog post like this one)?

There are a few theories. One is that ‘nerd is the new cool.’ We’ve reached a place where knowledge is not just power, but in vogue. It may be a reaction to the previously accepted norm of the 1980s and 1990s, where being cool was actually anti-intellectual. ‘Too cool for school,’ was a popular eighties term. Another theory is that, since Millennials often don’t have the expendable income we’d like to, libraries are a free and easy way to entertain ourselves in our downtime.

Likely, it’s a combination of factors involved. Whatever the case, it is a welcomed trend.

Every generation has stereotypes about them that follow them wherever they go. Baby Boomers are spoiled and obtuse. Generation X is cynical and contrarian. We Millennials, and you’ve heard this in the news and online, are selfish and entitled, amongst other things. Like all stereotypes, they have a basis in reality, even if that reality is ephemeral or tritely stated.

Regardless, it is incumbent upon us to not fall into the patterns of stereotypes.

Here a few ways to confound and delight people who are not members of our generation. And yes, I am aware that this means changing your very nature, at least on the surface. And I’m also aware that this sounds pretentious. In any event, try them sparingly:

Slow down. Non-Millennials aren’t going to be able to keep up with our flittering attention spans. We’re a multi-tasking generation, and on the flip side, we are unable to keep our attentions focused on one thing for a prolonged period of time. It’s a positive development in the sense that we need to do this in order to keep up with the rest of the world, but it’s a negative one when concentration is required on something for more than a short while. Attempt to focus on something, anything. Meditate. Learn an instrument. Both will make you more interesting, too. Additionally, when explaining Foursquare and Instagram and Twitter to Octogenarians, don’t get exasperated; this is an entirely other world to them. Even the words themselves (Twitter primarily) are some type of joke to them. And honestly, can you blame them for laughing?

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Don’t be cocky. Cockiness, while undesirable, is understandable if you’ve done something impressive. Graduating from college is not impressive. Congratulations, you’re now one of hundreds of millions. It depends on how you fill your time after graduation day that will matter.

Don’t humble-brag. It’s the worst thing anyone can do, let alone a Millennial. For example, don’t say, “I’m so grateful that I went to grad school and didn’t have to straight into the work force” to a group of janitors. Don’t talk about your trips to Italy, Indonesia, or India, to a 23-year old single mother of three. I should write an entire column on humble-bragging later. Be humble, and not just fake humble. If you’re twenty, guess what, you don’t have all of life’s answers. Even if you make it to 100, you won’t have all of life’s answers. Relax.

Don’t whine. Millennials are known as whiners. Stop feeding the perception that we’re pampered and entitled. If you’re going to complain, at least make it constructive. And being constructive depends on the situation at hand.

Don’t concentrate so hard on being unique. It’s the most conformist thing you can do. Concentrate on being the best version of yourself. Always strive to be what you are, not what you think you ought to be. Be happy, but not at the expense of others, including your long-term self.

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Work hard. This is probably the broadest of the shibboleths I’m proposing, but seriously. How many times have you heard an employer say: “These young people just don’t want to work!” Or, “They’d rather just sit around and play on their phones than earn a paycheck!” I’m ad-libbing those lines, but the point is valid. I’ve known plenty of people my age who show up for a paycheck and that’s it. Show your employer that you’re not spoiled and entitled, and watch the surprise!

Plan ahead. This is one I struggle with most myself. Not just what you’re going to eat tonight, but how you’re going to eat in the future. Not just when you’re going to work, but what career you want as well. Set short- and long-term goals, and you’ll be surprised how much you find out about yourself.

Exercise good judgment. This is the very hardest thing to do, and this is something not strictly related to being a Millennial. Good judgment is something that is absolutely formulated in your twenties. It’s the difference between Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill; James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln. The only way to get better at it is to practice it, whenever possible. Say that its 10PM, and you have to get up early for work. Do you have a coffee with a shot of espresso? Or do you try to sleep now, even if you’re not really tired? Start exercising good judgment now.

In this economy, Millennials do not have the option of being picky. In college, we dreamt of 6-figure salaries, or starting a thriving business, or taking our time to build our pet projects. However, idyllic as we pictured our post-graduate lives being, the realities of life, of course, hit us hard. Unemployment for recent graduates is at 12.7% as of July 2012.

But even the harshest pessimist likely could not have foreseen the most opportunistic and desperate of realities: unpaid internships.

ImageDoes this not entice you?

It’s been explained to us in ostensible terms: if you work for a company for free, you get a foot in the door. This can be true, sometimes. A dozen or so years ago, unpaid internships were not uncommon in the arts, but they have spread out into the industries of business, law, and journalism, even before the Great Recession hit in 2008.

Unpaid internships prey on a very common-sense theme: Experience trumps education. Our educational system does not value hands-on experience, so when the newly-matriculated graduate is loosed upon the world with tens of thousands of dollars in loans to repay and debt to refund, the question becomes: how can we possibly break into the industries we’ve thought about entering with only a $140,000 piece of paper that nearly everyone else has?

Sometimes, these unpaid internships do indeed lead you to where you want to go. Other times, they lead to desperation and despair. We hear from our peers how they are forced to do menial labor; the labor that paid workers refuse to do. Grabbing lunches; making photocopies; cleaning offices; making coffee; answering tedious phone calls. Some have worked over forty hours a week (some much more).

ImageWould you work for a man who had this mug? Courtesy of store.theonion.com

 

How did so many businesses get kids to work for free?

Historically speaking, we need to go back nearly 80 years in order to find the law that allows for something like this. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, and it laid out a 6-point test, still in use today, for hiring unpaid interns:

1. The internship must be similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship must be for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees;
4. The employer derives no immediate advantage from the intern;
5. The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship; and
6. The intern understands that he or she is not entitled to wages.

(Credit: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/statutes/FairLaborStandAct.pdf)

If followed to the letter, this would be acceptable. The first point is a bit unreasonable nowadays, and the second and fourth points might be a little naïve to expect, but otherwise, they are not without merit. But how many unpaid internships do you know that follow these six steps? These steps are more in line with apprenticeships, which are very nearly anathema in the United States at this present time, except for in the vocational areas of electrical work, plumbing, and the like.

It is common knowledge in many industries that recent college graduates who are taking unpaid internships are going to work hard to get noticed. If they’ve taken the initiative to take something without pay just to be in an industry, then they will take an unreasonable amount of degradation before getting fed up.

Take the case of two unpaid interns vs. the movie industry. Two men filed suit against Fox Searchlight, stating that, in direct violation of the 6-point test from earlier:  “Fox Searchlight acted illegally, the lawsuit asserts, because the company did not meet the federal labor department’s criteria for unpaid internships. Those criteria require that the position benefit the intern, that the intern not displace regular employees, that the training received be similar to what would be given in an educational institution and that the employer derive no immediate advantage from the intern’s activities.”

Recently, Fox stated that they have changed their policy to ensure that no interns are paid less than $8 an hour. The two men have since expanded the lawsuit to include all internships under the parent company of Twentieth Century Fox. That case is ongoing.

 

That is just one example of the situation we’re dealing with. Of course businesses would love to get free labor; it helps keeps costs manageable. And recent graduates are so desperate that they are willing to take these marginal ‘jobs’ just to attempt some sort of forward momentum. However, this does not take into account the vast number of students who come from lower-class families and harder situations who can’t afford to take an unpaid internship in a big city. It puts them at a distinct disadvantage.

There are positives to unpaid internships, of course. Other than the fact it can actually get you a foot in the door, and resume experience, the big seller is that it ‘builds character.’ While this is something you will hear from people who have apparently already gone through their character building years, there is a kernel of truth to it. Only through friction can fire start, and only through adversity can we learn perseverance. However, it can easily be argued that these lessons can be learned with some pay as well.

This is not a progressive vs. conservative issue; it’s a moral issue. It lends itself to the greater problem of a regressing economy, and the lengths which some employers are willing to go to meet their bottom line. This should be concerning to authorities and to business in general. The market that allows for this sort of desperation will beget more desperation.

Before any laws are changed, or any trends dissipate, it is incumbent on any matriculating or recently matriculated college graduate to look very closely at their opportunities in the job market, and take care to discover whether or not any internships being considered are fair and/or worthwhile.

Eventually, the world economy will gradually get better, but it will also evolve, as all economies do. Will it involve rampant unpaid work for college graduates? Or will involve young people being able to make a fair wage? Millennials have to decide.

A fascinating article was recently penned by Joel Kotkin for the Daily Beast the other day, called Generation Screwed. You can read it here:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/07/15/are-millennials-the-screwed-generation.html

His take is backed by sound numbers and good analysis. Those numbers and analyses suggest that the game is rigged against the Millennial generation by the Baby Boomers and Generation X. But not out of hubris or malice, but out of fear and stupidity.

The previous generations have taken what they could from what was offered without fear of the well running dry. Now, the well is running dry. Boomers aren’t retiring as early not, because all of a sudden, the money isn’t there to move to Boca Raton. And considering the palpable desperation frothing from the masses of 18-29 year olds looking for gainful employment, companies that are looking to hire new workers are low-balling Millennials

The Millennial reputation, oftentimes well earned, is that we are whiners, and who strut about with undeserved sense of accomplishment. Working with Millennials in a professional environment can be extraordinarily frustrating.

Millennials

In Ron Alsop’s The Trophy Kids Grow Up, he discusses the unusual precedents that our generation sets up for the workplace. We don’t like dressing up for work, and we don’t like our personalities infringed upon or stultified. We want flexible schedules, steady pay-raises, and a clear path up the corporate ladder. This rubs many in the business world the wrong way, and this is perhaps why many major companies are uncomfortable hiring us. But it’s a feeling they steadily have to get comfortable with. We are unavoidable, considering there are 90 million of us swarming the work force in segments, year after year.

There need to be new and clever ideas if we are to have it anywhere near as good as the previous generations have. There is a serious debate going on in Washington DC, and indeed, all over the world, on how to ensure that the wealth of nations does not dissipate taking care of generations who have grown used to spending without paying much back. We need to impose responsibility on those in power, and take that power away from those who refuse to be responsible.

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