It’s not easy being young these days. From the streets of Montreal to unemployment offices in Europe, new graduates and young workers are becoming what French singer Mylène Farmer famously called a generation désenchantée. We’re buckling under the weight of a social and economic model that was overused by generations before us and is now straining to fulfill its promises to us, the next set. Staving off a full-blown catastrophe—the sky seems to be falling every day over in Europe—won’t be easy. Much like the oh-so-popular austerity programs of contemporary politics, the solution to our hardships will only come from hard work. Rather than succumbing to disenchantment, we have to become the bold generation.
We have to be bold and radical in everything we do. When it comes to applying for jobs, competition is stiff and talent pools are large. Employers can take their pick, and they’re going to look for the standouts; boring, old-style resumés quickly get shuffled to the bottom of the heap. A hiring manager is less likely to consider you when your only interaction is a bland email. But watch what happens when you march up to them with a crisp, modern resumé and say, “Remember my face because we’ll be working together soon.” It takes guts, but that kind of boldness can be surprisingly effective.
Our apathy and disconnection from politics is another huge problem we need to face head-on. By failing to raise our voices in the political conversation, we are allowing our futures to be trampled. Governments tend to focus on the desires of reliable, committed voters—there’s a reason pensioners’ demands are met quicker than college students’. So, to be bold, we need to engage ourselves more thoroughly in political and decision-making processes that affect both us and the rest of society. This doesn’t have to be a purely altruistic endeavour; there is work available in this field that we, as a generation, are perfectly suited for. We’re smart, intuitive and passionate about issues like the environment, poverty, and financial and political reform.
So many of us still hope for lucrative private sector work that pulls in the big bucks quickly after graduation (with five-figure student debt loads, who could blame us?), and completely overlook the benefits of public sector work. Granted, being a PR flack or communications consultant for a private corporation may pay a lot more than government work, but the expertise and skills of tech-savvy young graduates are still severely lacking in the political and governmental arenas. This kind of disengagement might be holding us back not only from making our voices heard, but from fulfilling, stable and decent-paying jobs. Trying to crack into that public sector workforce may seem challenging, but that’s part of what it means to be bold: trying, even when it seems too difficult.
Similarly, there’s much to be said about young, job-starved graduates going out on their own, starting their own businesses and organizations. Young entrepreneurship is increasingly common, which is a good thing. But it would be great to see some of that intelligent, inventive acumen put toward less profit-driven efforts as well. There is so much that we as young people could do if we channeled our education and talents into charitable work, international aid work, and trying to improve the lives of others around the world while building our own.
By applying the vibrant creativity that is a hallmark of our generation, we can make our lives and the lives of others better. We’re coming of age in a world that seems resolutely against us becoming achievers, and we’re the only ones who can do something about that. The pessimism of poor employment prospects, high (and climbing) student debt and a fumbling economy shouldn’t dictate our lives. Rather, we, the young and educated, need to tackle our obstacles and overcome them through intelligence, innovation and a little bravery. We shouldn’t let history remember us as a lost generation—let’s be the bold generation.