It’s Broke! How to Fix it and Save Your Career

Everyone knows the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. What if it’s broken? No trendy phrase for that? Company’s that don’t recognize a broken system often times fail. The same principles apply for individuals. The fact is, business has evolved over the last 30 years and millennials need to evolve with it. Now is the time to fix it and save your career.

The most educated generation in history is on track to becoming less prosperous, at least financially, than its predecessors. -  Steven Rattner

Have You Heard This One Before? 

“Go to school, get good grades, get a good job”. Millennials may have heard it from their parents. Parents may have said it to their kids. No one is to blame. Thiswas great advice.

Go to School – Education is important. For most it is a necessity. The question is - education at what cost?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the average student loan debt for a 2015 graduate is a little over $35,000. Students aren’t the only ones to feel it. 17% of the  71% of students with debt have parents who have borrowed on their behalf. Student loans and mortgage debt are the only trillion dollar deficits we face.

Get Good Grades – This is the most ambiguous. Good grades are A’s and B’s? Do good grades from a lesser known academic school count? I don’t encourage getting bad grades. But, I will shine light on the fact that your school GPA may be as insignificant as ever in finding a job. When I google a job candidate, their grades don’t come up.

In the case of curriculum, I will only talk about my experience. I learned from smart employees how to become a great employee. This process worked in the old system. Today it’s important to think like a business owner. Technology allows everyone to turn their own personal brand into a business. Much of that is the mindset around it.

Get a Good Job - Newsweek ran a good piece on Millennials in the job force. 13.8 % of 18-29 year olds (a part of the millennial age group) are out of work. This is over 5% higher than our national unemployment. For those who do find employment, CNN Money reports that the avg. starting salary for those who do get employed out of school is $45,478. At this salary you net a little bit over $37,000 (assuming no extra deductions).

Why Are You Telling Me All This?

Because its my LinkedIn page ! Just kidding – This is a tale for students, recent grads and parents. I speak to students often and am shocked by their outlook on employment. I can’t blame them. They grew up through our current recession. Parents and friends of parents lost jobs.  Older siblings and friends battle debt and trouble finding work. Most students don’t have a “dream” job, they have a dream of getting any job.

Parents have an opportunity to change the language they use. Kids may not listen (I didn’t) but they watch and absorb. My parents owned their own small business my whole life. I grew up thinking owner not employee. That doesn’t mean you have to start your own business. You can articulate why there is more opportunity than ever for them.

Recent Grads – it’s not over yet! Late 20s have shown the biggest personal and professional growth for me. This may not be the case for everyone. Millennials will have more opportunity then ever to  re-invent themselves. They can also overcome debt with proper financial planning and/or multiple streams of income.

The New Model

Go To School – Still an important piece of the puzzle.

  • Explore Community Colleges if you are paying for school out of pocket. The right ones are providing top notch education and turning out job ready students.
  • Quantify Grad School – Don’t just go because you can’t find a job. In your field will the extra school = a large enough return once employed. The answer may surprise you.
  • Push Yourself in High School – Scholarships are available for the taking. High Schoolers don’t always listen to their parents. Encourage your children to find a mentor in High School. Help them find one. The right one should be relatable (young professional) and have credibility (some success). With proper guidance the concept of a little hard work can go a long way may resonate.
  • Explore your options – Companies like CommonBond are helping students lower debt. They are paving the way but similar options will become available.

Educate Yourself and Never Stop – Education > Grades

  • College needs to be a time of learning and growth. Grow your self image. Learn responsibility. Create habits (the good kind). Associate with the right people. Sometimes this happens organically, other times you need to look for it.
  • Required reading is just that. My recommendation. Find someone who is where you want to be and read what they tell you to read.
  • Education can be fun. Let it fly in college. Study abroad (I wish I did), explore, try new things. Be safe. This is the time to let it rip so you when you graduate you can hit the ground running.

Own Your Brand – This doesn’t mean start your own business. Understand business ownership. Create your brand to make you more desirable for employment and provides security once hired.

  • Build and feed your network. Attend networking meetings or connect with individuals on a weekly basis. As you grow your network figure out where you can provide value and offer it. Jobs, clients, customers will come and go but relationships are lasting.
  • Create your own content. Students always push back. “We don’t know what to write”. The truth is you are an expert at your own life. Write about that. Tools you find valuable, books you enjoy, trends, passions. Even if your mom is your only subscriber, your are building your brand.
  • Build your team. Like any good business you need to surround yourself with experts in various areas of business. Finance and accounting are two good places to start. It is never too early to start making proper financial decisions.
  • Focus on the long term. Brands aren’t built over night. Yours will not be the exception. Consistency is the key and the results will follow.