Some Millennial Sympathy

One of the great things I’ve learned while teaching at Syracuse University over the past three years is that I really like Millennials. A lot of people seem to think they’re coddled whiners. The funny thing is that the people who say that often are Boomers, who created the me-first solipsism to begin with—they’re the folks who GAVE the Millennials all those trophies and birthday parties and gizmos that supposedly define them. Sheesh.

Another rebuke to the “coddled” tag is that Millennials have been graduating into the worst jobs market since, well, the 1930s. The competition for even halfway decent jobs is insane (an entry-level position at a sister magazine to mine received more than 400 applicants).

Finally, I find them to be family-, community- and justice-oriented. And they can laugh at themselves.

I like them.

Which is why it’s hard to watch so many of them struggle to get started in this never-quite-thawing-out job market. One of my students has been in touch for months now, asking for advice on how to pitch stories, how to angle for a job, etc. And over that time I have heard her anxiety rising. After our latest exchange, I sent her this:

I don’t know if it’s great advice. Here’s what I know.

  • You’re smart and motivated and personable and somebody soon is going to be happy they hired you;
  • the job market has sucked, continues to suck, and it’s easing only incrementally;
  • all you can do is keep focused on the task at hand and keep trying despite not getting what you want—until you do.
  • And while all the job crap feels like a weight on your chest and as if the life you want is somehow evading you, you have to make space for yourself, breathe, and accept that life just is, in all its frustrations and glories. For me, sometimes, when I do that, I realize it’s not my life evading me, but the other way around: I’m not living my here-and-now life. So laugh, love, do. You’re alive, and you can.

Maybe not what you’re looking for this morning, but I want to acknowledge that I hear your frustration.

Best thoughts today,


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