Root of the Problem (pt. 2)

Generation Y was taught (and is still being taught) that a substantial education is the key to making money, and the only legitimate avenues to becoming a successful individual in today’s society, is by furthering your education or forgoing an Ivy League education to run a successful startup like some of the major tech companies. After seeing my father work his fingers to the bone, day in and day out for minimal recognition, at a company now known as Wells Fargo, I can’t honestly say I won’t go the same route, given the relatively steady salary in a perpetually uncertain economy. Another reason being; as it stands, I already have more education than he had, because in those days, it was perfectly acceptable to attain an Associates Degree and be a viable candidate in the job market.

Clearly, the landscape of our economy has changed drastically. Gone are the days when you were able to walk into an potential employer’s office without a bevy of relevant experience and be taken seriously. We may be the most educated generation to date, with far more knowledge and work experience than our parents at a comparable age, but for the most part, we’re not making the kind of money we were told we’re supposed to make, partly due to the careers we diligently seek out.

At my current job, I work alongside first-year and second-year law students, an extremely studious bunch who had upwards of $100k (a couple with around $160k) in student loans. I found myself wondering; how viable is a career that requires you pay that much for schooling in the current economy? Granted, seasoned attorneys make great money, enough to pay off those loans in a reasonable amount of time, but after a conversation with one intern in particular who wants to go into the public sector (assisting people who really need it, where the money isn’t as much as you’d think) she told me that it wasn’t about the money, but more for the satisfaction that you’re helping people in ways that most people can’t. Admirable? Absolutely. Doesn’t make much sense to me, though personally.
I read a fantastic piece in the New York Times from a guy about my age, and a couple sentences really resonated with me; “Having a job is supposed to be the reward for hours of SAT prep, evenings spent on homework instead of with friends and countless all-nighters. The millions of young people who cannot get jobs or who take work that does not require a college education are in danger of losing their faith in the future.” This powerful statement illustrates the feelings of the majority in our country, and I believe this attitude toward jobs may be the origin of the unemployment gap. Too many people are passing up jobs because they feel as though they’re over-educated. Others are content with collecting unemployment, and waiting on a job on par with the one they were relieved of. Honestly, the market right now has more jobs available than we give it credit for, albeit they are not the glamorous, corner office jobs people think they should have, and most likely involve settling for less money than what they feel they are worth. I think, collectively, we understand that for the most part, education leads to money, and the studies make that pretty clear. But with every odd job we take on just to cover the rent, the less we believe in the sentiment of more education = more money.

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