Magazine article Workforce Management

Mindful of Millennials

Magazine article Workforce Management

Mindful of Millennials

Article excerpt

The winners of our inaugural Game Changers competition represent rising stars under age 40, so not surprisingly most are Gen Xers.

But it's notable that four of the 15 are millennials born since 1980. During their first decade in the workplace, they certainly have racked up impressive accomplishments. Yet their achievements made me wonder whether equally promising younger millennials who reached their late teens and early 20s during this prolonged economic malaise will make their mark by age 30.

The unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds remains dismal, having risen in August to 25.4 percent. For people 20 to 24, the jobless figure increased to 14.8 percent.

Youth employment is a subject close to my heart, partly because I have an 18-year-old son starting college this fall and contemplating his future career. My interest and concern also stem from my personal connections with millennials.

While researching my book The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaking Up the Workplace, I met some talented college students and young professionals who were just embarking on their careers when the economy imploded. Some of them have continued their studies, seeking master's or law degrees while hoping to wait out the job drought. But I worry that they and others could lose their way in this stubbornly stagnant job market.

I decided to ask our millennial Game Changers for their thoughts about youth unemployment and advice for struggling millennials. I thought it would be enlightening to hear from people who share some of the same attributes as younger millennials but managed to get a jump on their careers before the recession.

Many millennials excelled in high school and college and were coddled by their helicopter parents. For these young people, unemployment--or underemployment--has been a brutal jolt. Still, Julie Heitzler, a 29-year-old Game Changer, believes millennials need to be mature during this challenging time.

"Honestly, I feel like that's just life," she told me in an email. "We are conditioned to think, go to school + get good grades + graduate = get a job. In reality, it's not so simple. ... I don't think graduates are doing enough to stand out and get themselves noticed among the sea of applicants. …

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