Millennials, Success, and the Job Search

As a rising senior, I, just like other rising seniors across the country, am incredibly concerned about finding a job after I graduate. I haven’t even started my first semester as a college senior and I’m already heavily researching companies that I might be interested in. I’m so worried about where I am going to end up by next May that I’m already writing cover letters for these positions that may or may not even exist by then. But aren’t I about seven months ahead of schedule? Why am I doing this when I can wait until next February? Isn’t it obvious? I’m scared. I’m scared what I’ve learned these past three years won’t be applicable to my future career. I’m scared because I don’t even know what career I want to have. I’m scared because what happens if I don’t find a job. Where am I going to go? What will I do? Not finding a job after graduation is a failure in my book, and I am not a failure. I have seven more months of freedom before the “real world” sets in. But instead of imagining how amazing my senior year is going to be with my friends, the thought of applying to jobs keeps me up at night, and constantly lingers in the back of my mind. At first, I thought I was going crazy. Who worries about something that won’t happen for another seven months?

Answer: A lot of people do.

There are others out there who do not know where they want to end up. There are others who are as determined to succeed. So why are people so concerned with their future when they can focus on the present? It seems ridiculous to not focus on the here and the now, especially since it’s necessary to make it through the day to make it to tomorrow. Their quest for success can be traced back to their childhood. Some individuals are so concerned with the idea of succeeding because that’s how they were raised. It’s practically embedded in their frontal lobes.

Part of being a millennial is succeeding, going above and beyond the norm and making something of themselves. Growing up, millennials were so pressured to make their parents proud, and that pressure has not been lifted from their shoulders since they left behind the comfort of their old bedrooms and entered college. They don’t want to be a disappointment. Their parents had high expectations for them since they were children and now they have high-expectations for themselves. They expect to be achievers and to accomplish something, but not just anything. They want to accomplish something that is meaningful. They were so sheltered and overprotected growing up that they finally have a chance to break through those confined walls, and see what else is offered in the “real world”. They are passionate about solving society’s problems, and they won’t settle for less than that. Everything has a solution, and it is up to them to find out what it is. They have recognized that they are the future, and they believe they are the best people for the job. They’re also very egotistical. They have their parents and those who raised them to thank for that. They were always told that they were talented, that they have a bright future ahead of them, and that they can accomplish anything they want. Millennials were told that all they had to do was work hard and they will succeed. But that’s false.

To their parents and those of older generations, working hard and succeeding meant being able to raise and support a family. To succeed meant coming home after a 9-5 to their significant other and their children. To succeed meant to have a job with benefits and a stable income to pay the bills and buy food, and then save extra for an end-of-the-year family vacation. But millennials aren’t concerned with that. They’ve changed the definition of what success is. For them, to succeed is to find meaning in their lives. To succeed means to work for something greater than themselves and to find solutions. To succeed is to learn that there is more than being on this planet than working 8 hours a day and returning back home to their families. They don’t want to live a mundane life, they want to live their lives to the fullest. Thanks to technology and social media, they are virtually connected with the events occurring around the world. They are constantly bombarded with images from across the globe. They see people climbing the Himalayas and traveling to remote islands and they want that for themselves. Why would anyone want to sit in a cubicle when they could be exploring all that this beautiful Earth has to offer?

Not only is the definition of success different to millennials. They are starting to realize that, sometimes, it does not matter how hard they work. They can be the hardest worker in the room and they may not succeed. The universe does not owe anyone anything. So many individuals work hard and finish college to find themselves unemployed and back in their parents’ home. Success, or what millennials consider to be success, is sometimes unattainable. They have such high expectations for themselves that some of their goals are unfeasible and unpractical. Not everyone can have a successful startup. Not everyone can be the CEO of a corporation. If everyone is reaching for the same positions, of course the majority will face disappointment.

Success is also largely individualized. To me, success means: (1) Paying off my student loans; (2) Buying a home walking distance away from a beach; (3) Owning two dogs; (4) Being able to return to school to get a masters in Business; (5) Modeling for Calvin Klein; and (6) Traveling around the world until I have to return home to take care of my parents. But to do any of this I need the collect the root of all evils. I need the thing society tells us cannot buy happiness. I need money. I can only get money from working. But to work, I need a job. And I’m not looking for any old job; I want a job that will help others achieve their goals, since they are indirectly helping me reach mine. I want a job where I can apply my skills and has great pay so I can support my lifestyle. I want a job that will challenge me on a daily basis, a job that promotes sustainability, allows me to continue my research about millennials and technology, and one allows me to climb the corporate ladder. But to get a job, I need to be hired. To be hired, I need to be the perfect woman for the job. To be the perfect woman for the job, I need to practice and hone in any and all of my abilities. My biggest fear is finding the perfect job for me and not being the perfect person for the job. My second biggest fear is that I’ll have to settle for less than what I can do. My third fear is that I will fail.

You can call me your average millennial but, I’m not the only one with these fears. I’m not the only one worried about succeeding in life. This desire for success is why college students are so worried about finding a job after graduation. We all want to succeed, and having a job is the only way we can do that.