Deep in the Trenches, But not Alone

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
- Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford commencement

Right after my most recent layoff at the end of September, I felt angry, frustrated, and helpless.

Once again, I was unemployed. Worse, my pride and confidence were shattered.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity and drinking myself to a stupor, I funneled those emotions into useful action.

Pissed off, I scoured the Interwebs for any sort of advice, something that could relate to what I was going through.

Much to my delight, I came across a blog called The Trenches by Frances Bridges.

Instead of advice, I found a comrade in arms.

Bridges currently blogs for Forbes — yeah, THE Forbes magazine — about career advice for twentysomething women. Despite the fact that Bridges is only 25, she writes with the swag and confidence of someone much older.

Like many other Millennials, she has traveled a long and winding road since graduation that I can empathize.

Bridges also went to a big football school, graduated in 2010, and moved to a big city to pursue a career in writing. Although she is highly educated and has plenty of drive, she couldn’t find a real job and bartended/hosted to support herself.

And she isn’t alone. According to a PayScale survey, last year, 63 percent of Millennial workers with bachelor’s degrees took jobs that didn’t need more than a smile and a cash register.

Frustrated that not one publication had a Millennial writing about the economy and how it affects us, Bridges decided to become the authority on the subject.

I too have heard the litany about how Millennials are entitled, lazy, immature, and how there’s something wrong with us. How it’s so easy for people who have entire careers to fall back on and came of age prior to the Internet and the recession tell us we should just grow up and get a job already. How the problem is us, despite an economy where youth unemployment for 18- to 29-year olds is still around 12 percent.

Bridges’ blog inspired me to continue the conversation about how Millennial unemployment is an enormous problem that can lead to a greater recession; one where technology and globalization continue to displace workers and uneducated people’s wages plummet.

To all of my fellow Millennials out there stuck in the trenches of adulthood, know that you are not alone in your struggle for success and pursuit of a productive, meaningful, and happy life.

We’re in this together, and together we’ll overcome this economy.

Lifelines

I’ll share three pieces of advice from Bridges that resonated the most with me after my layoff.

bridges

Frances Bridges blogs for Forbes about career advice for twentysomethings.

1.) No one will care about your career as much as you will

It’s simple: You either believe in yourself or you don’t. It takes some brass balls to pursue your passion and if you want it bad enough you’ll do insane — hopefully legal — things to get it.

Apply for jobs you’re qualified for and want but don’t think you’ll get. Try to get in touch with someone who you don’t think will listen to you from a company you want to work for. It worked for Bridges who semi-stalked Susannah Breslin and was then featured in Forbes and eventually started writing for them.

If you spend more time thinking about how you won’t get the job you want, you waste more time not doing what you love.

No matter what you do, no one will care as much as you.

2.) Know what you want

Like I said in my last post, this is harder to figure out than most realize.

Two jobs ago, I temped at a stuffy, white-collar consulting firm learning how to do proposal writing because I couldn’t find a regular journalism job. A month into the temp job, I was told I would be hired permanently and have that elusive salary and health insurance.

Although I worked as hard as I could to learn a new industry and different style of writing, I didn’t find it interesting and most likely wouldn’t have stayed long after I paid off a considerable amount of debt from my first bout with unemployment.

Three months and a tornado of administrative hiccups after I was told the company would hire me, it terminated the contract as the company felt a more senior-level employee was a better fit. I was devastated that I was unemployed twice in five months.

But a friend reassured me I didn’t go to J- school to stay up until four in the morning at an office writing a 700-page proposal for the federal government — I wanted to use my writing skills to help others. Soon after, I didn’t feel so bad as that job served a wonderful example of what I don’t want to do for a living.

3.) Don’t drink the Kool-Aid

It’s surprisingly easy to get drunk off the company Kool-Aid.

My most recent job had some pretty tasty Kool-Aid with its casual tech-friendly atmosphere, game room, and benefits.

I was the first technical writer hired by an IT startup and edited and backlogged more than four years’ worth of technical documentation. After nine months, I was laid off. The company didn’t have enough work coming in to pay me and decided to keep another tech writer whom they paid less.

Despite its casual Big Bang Theory atmosphere, I found that my actual job as a technical writer wasn’t very interesting and became monotonous and boring really fast.

If it’s anything I have learned, discover your passion and pursue it because no matter how good the benefits or atmosphere are, you’re living someone else’s dream.

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