America knows well the issues we are facing with unemployment across all fronts, with workers losing jobs and others taking positions for which they are overqualified just to stay afloat. But how are the youngest of this demographic handling the absence of opportunities as new entrants into the workforce? Where are all the openings in marketing, creative writing, and general business -- areas they've studied at undergraduate and grad schools? Unfortunately, the current state of the labor market is not prepared to accept them easily, let alone train them to be at the top of their craft.
While the average unemployment rate is certainly daunting, it is even higher for Generation Y, at 13.5 percent for people aged 20-24. So what is a newly minted bachelors or masters to do, with few options to earn a living and repayments for education loans looming?
In most economic downturns, opportunities to be entrepreneurial arise. Coupling how tech savvy Generation Y is with the current enthusiasm around start-ups, the area of tech start-ups positions itself compelling career destination. But there are a few things worth mentioning before embarking down this path to ensure success, be it job stability or career happiness. Most start-ups fail, have little to no resources to train raw talent in any traditional sense, and the clear roadmap to rise up the ranks purely doesn't exist.
That said, there are ways to navigate the volatile seas of the unemployment crisis via the vessel of start-ups:
Continue growing, learning
Fresh out of an educational setting, young professionals are quite adept at absorbing knowledge. However, today's innovation economy requires more from its participants than the ability to let skills wash over them, while they idly soak it in. You must continue to develop the skills for tomorrow, today. What's inspiring is that most of these areas of practice are very nascent, such as big data, growth hacking (marketing), and mobile design. These growth areas provide a level playing field and opportunity to become a leader.
Be social, mature socially
The intersection between new and old representations of social dexterity present an advantage to Gen Y. The learned skills of interacting with colleagues in a structured work environment are no doubt invaluable, but are becoming increasingly blended with the need to utilize social media and new communication channels. Growing up in a time when landline telephones are an antiquated precursor to the iPhone, the tables are turning in favor of those that were on Facebook and Twitter before corporations signed up.
Flexibility and Endurance
The truth is, finding a job anywhere in this economy is difficult. Start-ups especially have a lot at risk when hiring their next employee. The skills and culture fit at a company with only a handful on payroll can be critical. Finding the perfect fit is just as important for the young professional, and it takes patience as well as persistence. At the same time, Gen Y has grown up in arguably the worst economic conditions we've known for a long time and I believe resilience is hardwired within them.
Employment hardship may or may not be ending, but for our present and future workforce entrants, the answer must come soon. The ambition and aspiration to change the fate of the newly educated, yet unemployed, is for us muster up. Here's to the crazy ones.