First Person: Graduating in a Down Economy

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Assuming the job market and economy doesn't recover in the next three or four years, my sons will be graduating into a recession just as I did back in the early 1990s. According to a new study by Pew Research Center cited in U. S. News & World Report, half of people ages 18 to 34 are working at jobs they don't like just to pay the bills. Moreover 1 in 3 of young men and women in Generation Y say they have delayed having children or marriage because of the recession. My sons are the youngest of the Gen-Y group that is currently facing hard decisions in life.

Juggling several jobs

One of the nice things about being young is that a person typically has the energy to juggle several jobs. When I was searching for my dream job in my 20s, I took not just one, but several jobs just to pay the bills. Taking the jobs helped me by broadening my "networking base." I was able to meet people who could help me break into journalism. While I worked at a paying job helping disabled children, I wrote for small newspaper for free. If I was graduating in a recession today, I'd probably start a blog to earn money.

Becoming a freelancer

I think my most intelligent move in my 20s was to build up a freelance career. After several years of being an independent contractor for a daily newspaper, I was offered a full-time position. However, I turned it down since I was earning twice as much while working at home and having a flexible schedule that allowed me to spend time with my children.

Choosing not to delay motherhood

I think a lot of people in Generation Y are going through the same challenge that faced people in my Generation X about 20 years ago. Many of my peers delayed parenthood until they could purchase homes and establish their careers. However, I knew that my financial situation would improve by the time my children were old enough to be aware of social status. I think people delay parenthood until they have more money so it will be easier, but I found that there are challenges no matter how much money I had. Today I see women in their 20s, 30s and 40s raising small children. Many households now depend on dual incomes with or without children.

Knowing when to sell out

When I was in my 20s, I viewed taking a full-time job as "selling out." I had friends who became wealthy entrepreneurs without every taking a corporate job. However, by the time I hit 30, I felt as though I could use the benefits including health insurance, paid vacations and company-sponsored retirement accounts that came with a full-time position. Some people "sell out" when they become parents or get married. I had to learn to shift my thinking to realize that I could still maintain my freedom and integrity while also working as an employee.

In the long run, I think people in Generation Y are fortunate to have the opportunity to work their way from the bottom. They may be forced to come up with alternative businesses and jobs. A growing trend is the idea of mico-jobbing or taking several small jobs each day to add up to a normal sized paycheck. Without a doubt, I've noticed there are economic cycles in our country. So even if Generation Y is struggling now to make it financially, it will get better. With no many baby boomers retiring every day, there should be plenty of job openings for those who hung in there.

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