On Monday, I had the enormous pleasure of having coffee with Max Rymer and learning some of the ins and outs of the job market. Max is only a few years older than I am, but already, he’s been a business development analyst, marketing consultant, account executive, and is now the business development director at Digital Solutions. In addition to all that, Max has also started his own career consulting business. Needless to say, there’s a lot to learn from this guy, and it makes it even better that he’s fun to talk to.
A topic Max and I kept circling back to in our discussion on Monday was the bad reputation of our generation (millennials). An eye roll often comes up when talking about our generation, and really, that’s nobody’s fault but ours. We are the first generation who can’t comprehend a world without Google. Some call us lazy, others call us brilliant. Max and I went back and forth over the issue several times: how can we overcome our generational label and break into a job market where experience (of which we have little) is king? Max offered a couple suggestions:
The problem with being raised with Google is that there’s really no excuse for not knowing things. If you don’t understand how something works, I guarantee someone on the Internet will. Yes, having a bachelor’s is incredibly helpful, but the university won’t teach you everything. Max talked about how some of the highest paying workers at his old job didn’t even have college degrees—they simply taught themselves. Granted, some fields don’t make this possible (e.g., engineering); however, if you can teach yourself the rules of the AP Style Guide and then put that on a resume, you’ll know the rules because you wanted to, not because some professor forced you to take a test on it.
And this doesn’t just include skills. For a potential marketer, being in the loop about the newest social media tools or following the top agencies in the nation is a way to learn more about the industry and how to break into it more strategically. Have a mindset to keep learning even when you’re out of college.
As millennials, Max and I laughed over the common paradox job hunters run into: you need experience to get experience. (It’s laughable only because it’s so frustrating.) However, showing initiative is a way to get around some of these obstacles. That means instead of relying on your college classes to boost your resume, stuff it with other things. And I don’t just mean internships. (Although those are incredibly helpful.) Volunteer your skills at a place that can use them. We writers are lucky in that respect because nearly everyone needs good writing. Offer to proofread your church’s bulletins or take on a project for your local newspaper. Unpaid, unasked tasks like these can really boost your experience level and show you’re willing to go beyond basic requirements.
Millennials, we don’t have the best reputation, and let’s face it, many of us are trying to enter a crowded job market. Whenever I start thinking too heavily on job searching, I can feel a weight sagging on my shoulders. But, it’s not impossible. Success stories like Max’s are proof of that.
Fellow millennials, keep learning, keep hustling, keep showing initiative. We can get there.