“My degree is useless. It didn’t lead to a job.”
“I’ll never be able to afford a house in Vancouver.”
“Our generation is screwed.”
All pretty commonly-held beliefs among people of my generation today. Also pretty common ideas spread in the media. In fact, these ideas of doom and gloom are even fed to university students mid-degree.
When I was a journalism student five years ago, my professors basically warned us that to even contemplate becoming a journalist in a world where newspapers are all but dead and blogs are a dime a dozen, made us suckers destined for a life of unpaid internships. Yes, our financial futures painted an inevitable picture of dismal struggle and a lack of stability, topped with an almost humorously pathetic tone to it all.
Five years later, after working my ass off to successfully avoid this fate, I get pissed off every time I hear another radio show talking about how impossible it is for 20 somethings to earn enough money to buy a home anytime soon.
While I know many people who have resorted to bartending for years after finishing a degree because it seems like the only option, I don’t think this has to be the political science or history major’s fate. In fact, I know this doesn't have to be our fate.
Even though the job market is changing and it seems to be harder than it used to be to land a stable 9 to 5 career job right out of university, there are so many new opportunities arising to replace the more traditional job. In fact, I would argue that it's time we stop fighting it. We should stop looking for the traditional career and start embracing what now exists.
While newspapers might be dead and the supply of teachers way out paces the demand, there are tons of new ways to earn a living that didn’t used to exist—in every industry. For one, think about how many different kinds of consultants exist these days. People—and businesses—hire consultants in every field imaginable: from health and wellness experts to interior landscaping specialists to social media marketing consultants. I mean, we live in a world where you can make a living as a Closet Organizer! Fifty years ago, nobody even knew the needed someone in their closet, and today they’re spending big bucks paying someone to shuffle their shoes to a lower shelf.
Although different, I think my generation needs to start viewing our time as a time of possibility in the job market. And from our end, my generation needs to stop complaining and accept responsibility for our current failings.
I know way too many people in their twenties who are living an entitled existence, bitterly pouring vodka sodas five nights a week, angry that their degree didn't come with an automatic job offer. Since when did a degree earn you anything more than a handshake that says, “Congratulations, you managed to hunker down for a few years and stay sober enough to pass your exams?”
It’s time we start thinking outside the box, thinking beyond the traditional 9 to 5 government job, to create our own opportunities.
Alas, I have a success story to tell to prove my point.
This is Mandy Gill’s story. (Part 2 will tell her whole story, but the Coles notes is that this 27 year-old has thought outside the box to create a career for herself that is anything but ordinary).
After going to school for broadcasting, she worked in a traditional radio job for a number of years, but was soon ousted, as so many others in the media industry are. She tried to scratch and claw her way back into a stable radio position, but eventually decided to combine her passions—media and fitness—starting her own business in the process: MGM Fitness.
Mandy on the cover of Impact Magazine
Today, at the age of 27, Gill's life is anything but traditional when it comes to her day-to-day living. The amount she packs in her day will make your head spin, but her business is thriving in both her media and fitness-related careers. It's not what she originally intended for herself: she wanted to be in a newsroom broadcasting, but thinking outside the box led to things a newsroom never would have.
No question, she is defying the odds. As a 27 year-old female, she has an established career. And perhaps more impressive is the fact that she owns her own house. In North Vancouver, of all places—one of the most expensive areas of the country to live.
Gill is proof that you don’t need to move to Golden or William’s Lake to live a good life. Proof that working 24 hours a day, 21 days in a row, in Fort McMurray doesn’t have to be your fate.
** Stay Tuned for Mandy's in-depth story in Part 2, while Part 3 will look at three days in the life of Mandy Gill.