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ADVANCE Discourse: Lab

Unofficial Representative

Published July 25, 2013 10:01 AM by Michael Jones

I am a Millennial -- or, as Time Magazine referred to us, I am one of the “Me Me Me Generation.” I imagine the number of people who will be shocked by how I managed to write something so coherent without checking my phone a half-dozen times and attaching a picture of myself doing the duck-face pose will only be comparable to the number of people who will count how often I use “I” during this post. Regardless of what you think of us, sometimes I really hate my generation. Here’s why:

Every time I hear someone talking about J-Beibz and Tay-Sway, I want to shout at them about all the craziness that is happening in the world. I want to sit them down and talk about every potential advancement in clinical science that lacks funding -- I’d even settle for texting them about it. I want to yell about the Westboro Baptist Church, the energy crisis and the fact that we will probably have a military presence in Iraq for as long as it takes to pay off our school loans -- or that we’ll be cleaning up New Orleans from the Hurricane Katrina-BP oil spill one-two punch for as long as it takes to pay off our children’s school loans. There is so much happening in the world, and we are too busy buried in our little handheld computers to take any action.

Older members of a community have always criticized younger members of a community. You’ve probably seen it in your laboratory or facility, and you may have even taken part in it. Although these criticisms became something of a flag for rebellion to groups like the Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers, we pretty much agree -- at least, for the most part. We are every bit the entitled, self-obsessed and pampered generation they say we are, but we are also extremely aware of ourselves. After all, those useless degrees in Philosophy have given us perspective.

The problems with my generation are vast, but they are the same issues that older generations have been complaining about for years -- it’s just being broadcasted better. Although a lot of us are going to school to pursue unrealistic goals with unrealistic expectations, we’re aware of it and have already demonstrated little-to-no hesitation in switching to plan B. We don’t view the pursuit of unrealistic goals as a waste of time, nor are we crushed when we don’t succeed. We’re just dreamers -- and, traditionally, the “dreamers” have been the ones who make the greatest strides -- in politics, in art, in science, in clinical medicine and testing -- pick a category.

So, let’s talk a little bit about the job market.

Millennials are often scoffed at for still living at home, but isn’t it a self-perpetuating prophecy? I graduated college in 2010 -- literally into the single worst economic climate since the Great Depression. Those of us who didn’t attend grad school to postpone the undeniably crippling debt the majority of my generation would soon be facing went out and looked for entry-level jobs -- but all the “entry-level jobs” somehow required 3-5 years of related experience. So, we took part-time work at department stores and food courts and became jaded. Not because of where we were, but because we had evidently wasted our time with a valuable education that, as it turned out, couldn’t get us much further in life than the Build-a-Bear Store.

But we don’t blame anyone for this -- the job market is just stunted. Employees from Generation X and Y are stuck in the “entry-level jobs,” raising the experience requirements because our middle-aged, Baby Boomer parents can’t retire from their middle-management positions on the count of still having to support their unemployed, Millennial children -- the same people who are threatening everyone’s careers because they are all willing to work for next-to-nothing despite an already horrific economy. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s frustrating for anyone who gets caught in it.

Naturally, we stay at home -- not because we’re content to leach off of our parents until the end of time, but because the majority of us are working multiple part-time jobs and still can’t afford to move out or get our own health insurance plans. Instead, many of us are hoarding what little money doesn’t go towards student loans to buy homes. As the market slowly opens up again, those “entry-level jobs” are finally starting to look a little more entry-level -- and we keep saving because, one day (when social security inevitably dwindles), we’ll be the ones to take care of our parents, not vice versa.

On top of our aging parents, we’ll also have children (though significantly less than generations before us) who will have to deal with the multiplied effects of the already alarmingly rising cost of a college education -- but we’ll deal with it. We’ll encourage our children to pursue their dreams just like our parents told us to do -- but we’ll also encourage them to attend trade schools if they aren’t sure about college. With that in mind, my question isn’t what will happen to the Baby Boomers and X or Y Generations -- don’t worry, we’ve got you covered -- but who will take care of “the Me Me Me Generation” once we’re finished taking care of everyone else?


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