Honestly? It’s damn hard to be a millennial in the world of work!

Susanna Kahr

Ask anyone and the image of Millennials is always the same. We’re the lazy, ungrateful generation that has been given everything and doesn’t have to work hard any more. We all have lactose and gluten intolerances and we complain about everything. But why? Well, we think it has a lot to do with the fact that we spend so much time searching for meaning in our lives and in our careers. And it’s not just us, author Paul Agone also believes that the millennial generation is facing crazy challenges and most people just aren’t aware of the very real problems we face. 

“The job search has become the millennium version of the Hunger Games – without a camera and without any interaction with Jennifer Lawrence.”

In the USA, there are between 85-90 million people who are classed as millennials, making them the largest and most educated generation in history. And whilst this may seem positive at first, it actually leaves us with a real problem. According to author Paul Agone, the supply of trained workers is growing rapidly, whilst the demand for them is decreasing. And this means that hundreds of applicants apply for any one job. For many millennials this results in unemployment, underemployment and a frustrating start to working life. As Agone assures us, good grades are no longer enough to open doors into the world of work – but they are still a requirement. [1]

A university diploma is now worth as much as your high school diploma, and you’re now expected to have a master’s degree or a doctorate to be accepted into the game at all. Many millennials work part-time as a result, because despite having an elite degree they still have to live with their parents because they can’t afford anything else. According to the US census, millennials account for 40% of the unemployed.[1] 

“Just as it was the turn of millennials to seize the American dream, it exploded in our faces.”

But it’s not only the job crisis that is to blame for our bad finances. Agone also points out that in the average college debt for a millennial in the U.S. is around 33,000 US dollars! At the same time, the average household income hasn’t got any higher since 1999. By way of comparison, college debt in the United States is higher than debt caused by credit cards and car loans.[1]

However, tuition fees aren’t the only cause of debt. Pension contributions are rising and the disposable income of young adults today is up to 19 percent below the average of 30 years ago, plus the effects of the financial crisis are still being felt in 2008.[4] The truth behind the up-and-coming, intelligent generation that has it so good is that millennials are about 40 percent poorer than their parents [6] and are facing massive unemployment, a paltry pension and weathering the consequences of enormous environmental degradation[7].

If our work isn’t meaningful then what’s the point?

To make ends meet, millennials are accepting underpaid jobs, finding work as waiters or assistants with master’s degrees, and they have to say yes to every job offer. Let’s be honest – why are other generations surprised that we are still looking for meaning in our work?

Of course, we want to believe in corporate visions when we don’t have our own. It’s clear that we want a great work-life balance and flexible working hours and we absolutely want to live in the here and now if we can’t get a secure pension. It goes without saying that we prefer to work all over the world especially as it could be completely destroyed in a few years’ time. And it is also clear that our jobs should at least be fun if the tiny salary is not motivation enough to get out of bed in the morning. According to Agone, we are also the generation that reports the highest levels of clinical anxiety, stress and depression than any other generation before it – and not because we can’t stand anything and we’re soft. Rather because when you think about all of the challenges we’re facing it’s really not as easy as one might think.[1]

Facing reality

Seems like we got a little bit philosophic? Actually not, as these employer reviews from and about millennials show that we are just facing reality:




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[1] allgroanup.com

[2] moneyou.de

[3] jetzt.de

[4] stern.de

[5] berliner-zeitung.de

[6] zeit.de