Thursday, October 16, 2014

A very interesting read

Here is a very interesting articles about one of my all time favorite topics: millennials.

I am partial to them because I've spent my working life around them for the past 17 years.  Perhaps, even more so because I am more millennial than they are.

Here is my millennial score via this site.

 Where Millennials Went Wrong and How They're Paying the Price

This is an interesting read with some legit concerns.

The author starts out with these negative stats

  • They contributed $1 trillion to our national student loan debt [Bloomberg]
  • They are the most educated generation in human history, yet they have the highest share of people who are unemployed in the last 40 years [USA Today]
  • 48% of employed college graduates have jobs that do not require a four-year degree. [The Center for College Affordability and Productivity
  • Nearly 1/3 have postponed marriage or having a baby due to the recession. [Pew Research]
Student loan debt - When reading over this, I had to think, how is this the fault of any millennial?  If this had been true for my generation, would it have been Gen X's fault?

If you're a parent, are you seriously not going to push your kid toward college?  What kid (okay, I know of one, my nephew, but he's a rare, rare, rare case) who saves up diligently for college.  I would argue that is something parents of millennials (hello Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) should be held responsible for.

Maybe I'm extreme there.  But I just don't see how it's the millenials' fault that a university education is far more expensive than it ever has been before.

But the bottom line here is that I challenge a Gen Xer to tell their kids NOT to go to college because they'll have too much student debt.  I'd like to see the author of this article tell his kids that.

Did millennials take out students loans and then flunk out of college and thus rack up student debt. Of course.  But I know a significant portion of my peers in college who did the exact same thing.  It just wasn't as expensive to make the mistake now as it was then.  And I bet you had a large portion of Gen Xers defaulting on their student loans.  But do we blame them for that?

Unemployment - okay, I can see some blame falling on the millennials here.  Just get out and freaking work.  Even if it's flipping burgers, it's not beneath your dignity.  Don't sit at home in your parents' basement waiting for the "perfect" career.

But at the same time, how can millennials be blamed for the recession that sent companies scrambling to cut losses by laying millions of Americans off?   And thus a rise in unemployment.  That's like blaming the Greatest Generation for being out of work during the Depression.  And did any ever think of doing that?

But the bottom line here is that I think millennials have to get out and freaking work.  Period.

Jobs that don't require a college degree - I'm not sure this is the millennials' fault.  Go back to the start of the "college" for all revolution: the GI Bill.  Prior to that 10% of Americans had a college education.  But, then again, 90% of the jobs didn't require one.  

But when millions of young men came back from WW 2, the government, in a stroke of genius, realized that these vets needed somewhere to go.  Thus, they created the GI Bill will allowed them to go to schools that would never have been open to them before.  In fact, many Ivy League profs weren't thrilled about this at all.  You were devaluing their pressure degrees and education programs by letting in the average citizen.

The problem was that the industrial revolution and the fact that women in the work force were more efficient than the men who went to fight in WW 2, meant that the US needed fewer laborers.

So when all the dads got degrees and went to work in new upper blue class careers (that had not existed when they went off to Europe to fight), a new sector of the workforce opened up.  Plus, if a parent has a college education and realizes the benefits, is there any way they're not going to want their children to have the same?

Thus, Baby Boomers began going to schools in record numbers.  Not only that but more and more institutions of higher learning began to open up (MN alone has close to 100 now).  So that meant Gen Xers would be going to college in record numbers.  And their kids, the millennials, were expected to do the same.

Unfortunately, the job growth can't keep up.  Thus, there are more jobs that don't need a college education available now.  But because of their parents' expectations, the millennials have the college degree (or at least college debt) that their job doesn't require.

It's sad, but I don't know how this is the millennials' fault.

This is one reason, at LHS we have instituted our RAMP UP curriculum to get students College AND Career ready.  I preach all the time that they're are excellent jobs available with great pay that don't require a four year college degree.  The two men who are currently working on our basement for Innovative Basements probably don't need a four year degree from NDSU to be sawing and drilling down there.  Do they need training? Of course! Do they need to be life long, active learners? Of course.  Are they making (as my students would say) "good money" right now? Yes.  God bless 'em.

But one thing I find ironic about our RAMP UP curriculum is that - like it or not - it is slanted toward getting kids to a four year degree.  The bias is built in to almost every lesson.  So the hypocrisy of this runs deep.

And I don't see how we can dump it on the millennials.

Postponing marriage and having kids?  To this, I say God bless 'em!  That's one of the smartest things millennials could do.  Let's just remember, the millennials are the largest generation of people in American history.  If they started producing early and as often as the Greatest Generation did when they got back from WW 2, we'd be in a world of hurt.

And if they millennials are such a nuisance, just imagine the void America (let alone the world) would have without them.  Who would buy all of our products?  The most successful company in the world, apple, would crumble.  What would happen to Amazon? Zappos? Netflix? Wal-mart? Target? Universities? The film and music industries?  What do people the age of 16-32 buy today?  Think of the void that would exist without them!

Here is an interesting passage from the article

Millennials went wrong when they ignored the unique opportunities in front of them in exchange for the opportunities presented to their parents.
As the Information Age exploded, along with it came the rise in technology, and your average Millennial missed the boat. Instead of pursuing a path in a growing field like computer science to develop a skillset that would open up endless career options, most Millennials have chosen college degrees and careers in business and liberal arts, both of which are degrees that are virtually worthless to employers today.
I don't know that I'd lay this blame solely on the millennials.  Were schools (led by Boomes and Gen Xers) preparing students for these jobs?  It's kind of hard to know you should go into search engine optimization when you don't even know that is a field until you're a junior in college!  

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that small businesses and entrepreneurs were the backbone of America?  Yet, students aren't supposed to go into business?  I think that's dead wrong.

And liberal arts?  As the president of Duke, Richard Brodhead, once said to a parent of a graduate who said, "What kind of job will my son earn with his degree?"

Now that's a legit question.  Brodhead didn't duck, he said, "whatever job he wants.  As a liberal arts graduate, he can think, problem solve, adapt, and learn.  What job doesn't require those skills?"

I think that having a liberal arts degree would - to use the author's words against him - "open up endless career options."

Okay, so the author and I are in agreement here -

Millennials were misguided by their parents, their professors and their guidance counselors. To no fault of their own these influencers passed on the path to success that worked for them. Unfortunately, they didn't anticipate how the world would evolve.

And ultimately, I couldn't agree with him more when he offers this advice for millennials - and I preach this every single freaking day in College Comp 1 and 2 -

For starters, Millennials need to establish a portfolio both online and offline. If you're not receiving the job opportunities or the salary you desire, you need to work for free. Take on some pro-bono project-based work in your chosen field, do an incredible job and get a reference letter. Rinse and repeat this process at least 3 - 5 times. 
Last but not least, you need to make sure you have skills for today's new working environment. To survive in the highly competitive environment of employment today, you must be a Jack-of-all-trades. 
As an example, if you're pursuing a career in business you need to learn basic programming, graphic design, video editing, photo editing, accounting, web design, etc. All of these skills can be learned online at your own pace and for free or at a very minimal cost., and even YouTube are great resources.
All hope is not lost. Opportunity is abundant, but in order to qualify Millennials must be prepared for the unique obstacles that lie before their generation.

But what generation hasn't faced unique obstacles?  150 years ago when masses left the farms for the city, they faced unique obstacles.  When many of those jobs were lost to technology, they faced unique obstacles.  Later when those entire factories left for India and China, the children of the workers left behind faced unique obstacles.  And now that brings us to the millennials.  And this is where I think both a business background and a liberal arts degree and certainly a background heaped in computer science is vital: if you want a job, invent it.

Here are two videos that I love.  The first one tackles the lie that all students need a four year degree.  The latter video is a preview of the book based on the author's article analyzed above.  Both are wonderful resources.

And the other side -

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