When I was 22-years-old and fresh out of college, I thought the Real World would embrace me with open arms. My cup overfloweth with wide-eyed potential, dreams, and aspirations. I invisioned myself a modern day Mary Tyler Moore, coming out of my gigantic skyscraper office building dressed to the nines and waving down a taxi while an inspiring little song bopped in the background. Little did I know that “she’s going to make it after all” wouldn’t apply to me until three years later, when my dreams migrated to Florida to die and my hope was as shriveled as a deflated red balloon that I’d drag around with me until 5pm on Friday.
It seems that the recession has damaged an entire generation of young and eager workers. An article posted by Bloomberg Businessweek has dubbed Generation Y “the Lost Generation,” predicting that the long term effects will be devestating.
Last year, only 46% of people ages 16-24 had jobs. This is the lowest percentage since 1948. The typical route young people take from high school to college to career has been halted at the career terminal, causing a deprivation of much needed experience and credentials to young workers.
What this gap between college and an actual career has created is a clump of months or years that could be called “hang out time.” On the path toward self sufficiency and adulthood, Gen Yers will start working jobs that they are extremely over-qualified for just to make ends meet. Or, they could find themselves playing the role of babes in temp land, going from one temporary job to another until that permanent position comes along. They might also travel for extended periods of time or move back home with the folks.
This “hang out” period could possibly mean for Gen Yers what WWII meant for the Beatniks in the 1940’s and ’50’s. It could lead to an entire generation of disenchanted, nomadic people with no real purpose or direction to take.