Dear Millenials, Welcome to the Other Club: Unpaid and Unfazed.
You got it all wrong. We’re not doing all the drugs, and having all the sex while Instagramming our sushi dinners. It just looks that way with the right filter. We’re not content with being baristas and cocktail waitresses. But Sallie Mae always calls from a different number.
We’re Generation Y, aka Generation Broke, Frustrated, Lazy and Entitled, depending on which article you read. But nevermind what the Internet says.
Drum roll please. Millenials are the tech-savvy, creative class that has companies copying their style and cities gentrifying their blocks. Millenials have the 55-64 age group secretly using Facebook just as much as them, and colleges offering courses in topics like “Social Media and Virtual Communities.” Yes, millennial culture is adopted by those outside of the club, especially big companies , so why can’t they seem to get hired? And get paid?
The poor job market and depreciating value of a college degree is bad enough. But when millenials find themselves in between a growing number of for-profit companies that are “hiring,” for unpaid job positions masked as “volunteer,” or “internship,” positions, long after the average post-grad tossed their hat and tassel in the air, its even more problematic. Generation Y’ers who work for free. Its become the latest fad that have many young people either scoffing at the idea or jumping at any available opportunity. And according to some companies, it’s a surefire way to attain a paid position in the future or at the very least, acquire experience.
True, it is arguably illegal for a business to solicit your services without paying you, but that has not stopped companies from soliciting offers. Or millenials from applying for such positions. (Guilty). But even Forbes doesn’t think it’s a good idea. A recent article that listed the 20 Reasons Gen-Y Should Not Work Free, included “If you’re working for free, you’re likely [making those who make] a living doing [the same] work [unable to] find jobs because – among other things – recent grads are doing their work for free.” But for many, the thought that an unpaid position could jump start their career is not stopping some of the 16.3% of unemployed millennials that owe over a trillion dollars in student loans, to accept such offers.
Just to be clear, this is not a pity piece. Us millenials are doing the best we can to be self-sufficient. Even if it means creating our own apps or developing our own national competitions. (Yes, shameless plug, so click the link!) We are the new sub-group, or rather the growing “other” that the dominant culture continues to d-list.
Black educator and founder of the Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington once told newly freed enslaved people to “pull themselves up from their bootstraps,” which was rather paradoxical considered 400 years of legalized slavery and systematic racism couldn’t always afford one with boots to begin with. Now I’m certainly not arguing that the plight of millenials comes close to the Black Holocaust but I do believe those of a privileged society (or generation) may unfairly force those of a disadvantage, to achieve what they did, at the same rate, despite disproportions- in government, society and/or economics.
And yes, millenials are reshaping the way businesses operate. The 18-24 age group have the highest purchasing power at some $2 trillion worldwide. That means companies are following everything they do from how they incorporate hashtags into tweets to adopting their communal lingo. #YOLO.
But the question remains: If companies are so plugged into all things hip and milleanial than why don’t they attach real value to the maniac that is driving the machine?
Welcome to The Other Club.