Yesterday I listened to a TED talk by clinical psychologist Meg Jay about “Why 30 is not the new 20”.
Jay wants us to embrace our twenties because they will define our futures. However, I can’t help feeling that this pressure in today’s job market is a little unfair.
My boyfriend has just graduated and I have watched him struggle to find a job over the past few months, sending out hundreds of applications.
And what did he have to show for all this hard work? Two job offers.
He didn’t get a single other response.
Two job offers…that’s pretty good you might think. So where were these jobs then? One was for a part time position stacking shelves at a supermarket chain. The other was for a 3 month unpaid internship at a PR company.
In the end he decided to take the hit of being unpaid and get the experience of working at the PR company. Luckily he’s enjoying it but it finishes in November…then what?
I find it incredibly frustrating that this is the position that bright, hard working graduates from good universities with good degrees are being forced into. Choosing between working in a supermarket where they will gain no valuable experience or working for nothing.
And not only that, but we’re supposed to be grateful that we’re working for nothing, that we’re being given this great opportunity to be exploited.
Maybe I sound a little extreme here but this is by no means an isolated case. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about people having to work far beyond what is reasonable for an intern and yet still going home with nothing at the end of the day but the vague hope that it’ll lead to something better.
And my boyfriend is one of the lucky ones. He is lucky to live close enough to London that he can get an internship in the city and still live at home with his parents. He is lucky that he has managed to get an internship position that he is interested in and where he is able to make connections which might help him in the future. And he is lucky that he even has the luxury to make the decision between a paid and unpaid job, for many graduates the option of working for nothing is out of the question.
So what does this have to do with the TED talk I started off talking about? Jay claims that our twenties are actually “the defining decade of adulthood” which I have nothing against in principle. What I do have a problem with is that there are thousands of twentysomethings who are unable to use their twenties to define their lives in terms of a career because they are unable to find or to afford to have the career they want.
I have nothing against working hard but the fact that we have no choice but to do it for nothing seems horribly unfair. If I had it my way companies wouldn’t be allowed to have people working for them when they’re not paying them minimum wage or at least giving them the guarantee of a job at the end of it.
I don’t know what will happen when I graduate, maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones. But, to be honest, the future looks kind of bleak.
Here’s the TED talk if you’d like to watch. I like what Jay is saying. I’m just feeling a little disenchanted at the moment.
That’s all for now