The Lost Generation?

Jennifer Lee for the NYT and Nicolaus Mills for the Huffington Post strike a similar chord in their articles: recent graduates face an economy that is anything but stable and a job market that is less than encouraging, will they fail or rise to the challenge of finding success in a new type of working world?

Lee discusses a series of Ivy League graduates doing what she seems to deem non-traditional Ivy League jobs- whether it be driving cross country in a band or joining the working class while learning how to be the working poor. She presents an gloomy portrait of over qualified graduates staffing menial and sometimes minimum wage jobs, squandering their talents and ambitions, their lives “postponed.” The graduates have in common that each has found him or herself in an entirely unexpected place, but what Lee leaves unclear is whether she sees the great merit and opportunity provided by these roadblocks, or if instead she concludes, as her title suggests, that this is merely a “generation in limbo.”

Mills, after waxing sentimental about the departure of his recent Sarah Lawrence graduates, defines this (my, or maybe even our) generation with a certain degree of optimism as one of “trial and error.”  Just a little leeway, he argues, is what we need in order to get our bearings in this new world, his faith in our resiliency and ability to adapt clear.  Whether financials or the traditional pressure to secure a job after graduation allow for the privilege of this “leeway” this ability to try and fail and try again, is no certain matter.

So are we simply the Lost Generation?  Whether Lee is correct in her definition of our generation as one in “limbo,” waiting for time or circumstance to give us a break, or Mills is accurate in his assessment of our capacity to endure the “trial and error” path- one thing is for certain.  The world we face is unique, both in its great difficulty and in its immense opportunity.

On that note, a tip: If at all possible, create your own job.  Whether this means starting your own business or conducting a targeted search of companies that could use your particular skill set (even if they have no advertised opening), by creating your own job instead of selecting one from, for example, an internet posting, your are eliminating a great deal of competition and conducting a very important form of self inventory.

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