A throng of demoralising articles have surfaced over the past month, warning of decreasing employment opportunities for millennials and other young people.
A series of articles from a range of sources, including The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, and The Daily Mail, call this the Quarter Life crisis, suggesting that it is now harder than ever to find employment as a 25 year-old. This, in turn, is making young people more stressed than ever before, leading to a crisis.
While it is difficult to argue with the research behind all this (conducted separately by LinkedIn and the Foundation for Young Australians), the conclusions reached by the researchers may be missing the point entirely.
Is the quarter-life crisis really our own fault?
It’s easy to place the blame with university students and graduates, making statements like they ‘should have chosen a degree that is more employable,’ or they ‘don’t work hard enough to gain experience’, but the fact that it takes an educated, high-achieving university student an average of 4.7 years to transition into full-time work means there is something wrong with the underlying system.
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Perhaps employers looking for grad-students are setting the bar unrealistically high? There are only a set number of graduate positions, and an ever-increasing number of students competing for these positions. It must be really hard for companies to keep up with the demand, and to increase the supply of grad roles. If only they could get more tax-cuts from the Government, maybe that would allow them to increase the number of available jobs, right? Oh wait… didn’t we just do that?
Let’s give the big corporations the benefit of the doubt and assume the tax-cuts are going to good use, and the problem is still there. Maybe it’s actually the fault of our universities, charged with teaching students the relevant employable and transferable skills? Universities across Australia are focused on improving their facilities, and opening up more and more spots for Domestic and (especially) International students, to provide more access to these important employable skills. Billions of dollars are being spent to beautify campuses and provide incredible, state-of-the-art facilities. It would be ridiculous to claim that the agenda behind these increases in spending is to make more money from International students, rather than improve existing students’ ability to find a job, right? Oh wait…
Maybe I’m being harsh. Universities do offer the courses to develop skills needed to succeed and earn those ‘big bucks.’ The problem is that students don’t know how to access these services with the current resources available. Furthermore, the people charged with innovating and providing access to these resources seem to be living on a different planet. Take this suggestion, as quoted in The Age article, by a representative from Victoria University (whom I will not shame – but you can find them pretty easily in the original article)
Students should start thinking about what they enjoy and what they are good at in primary school and learn about how they might contribute to different jobs
Asking 10 year-olds to start thinking about how they might contribute to different jobs in the future does not seem the best answer. Their answers will probably include the words “Unicorn” or “Firetruck”.
So what can you do to find the right career pathway?
How Find My Pathway can help
All the information about how to overcome the unemployment ‘crisis’ that has taken over twenty-five year-olds is out there. It’s likely scattered across the 150 tabs you have open while looking for courses or careers, hidden between the fortnite videos you’re pretending not to watch and the constant ‘pinging’ of Facebook, notifying you that yet another friend tagged you in a meme.
The problem is, no-one manages to collect the relevant information together in one, easy to digest place. How on earth can I find a job in Psychology when I have no idea what current Psychologists have done to get where they are? And what do I when I realise I chose my Psychology degree on a whim (let’s be honest, it sounded like an easy and fun way to help people), and then decided after 5 1/2 years of studying that I don’t want to be a Psychologist anymore?
This is what I used to do in my hunt: I would open Chrome, type into Google ‘What jobs can I get with Psychology Honours?’, open up the first 10 results in different tabs, read about Counselling or Social Work for the four-hundredth time, then close all the tabs and watch Brooklyn 99 on Netflix instead.
Sometimes I would browse through Seek and Glassdoor to see what jobs are available, and how much they would pay. Even if I found something I liked, I would have NO idea how to land those jobs. There is a minute amount of information about which of the skills I’ve developed might help me with each job, or what pathway I need to take to develop those skills.
This is what I have tried to change with Find My Pathway. At it’s current form, Find My Pathway offers a general, easy to digest and visualise collection of information about Psychology and Biomed pathways (with Law, Engineering, Commerce and other fields coming in the future). This snapshot is created from personal experience, as well as browsing through hundreds of courses, LinkedIn profiles, Glassdoor career summaries and hidden University Pathways.
The best part – it’s available to you for FREE!
While Find My Pathway won’t change the number of available grad jobs out there, nor ensure that universities invest in improving education and skills, it will allow you to explore a huge range of different pathways that real people have taken to get into fulfilling careers.
If the huge range of options available to you doesn’t calm you down (it might stress you even more!), never fear. We have surveyed a range of Australia University students and graduates, and their answers about finding a fulfilling, successful job might help you realise there’s no need to stress, or to fall into a heap and cry yourself to sleep while drinking shiraz on a Saturday night instead of going out with your friends.
Finding what other people with similar interests and experience have done can be an extremely useful tool in figuring out the next step. However, comparing your unemployed, twenty-five year-old self with the eighteen year-old genius who graduated from Stanford and is working with Microsoft won’t help you find your own place in life.
We are all on our own pathways.
Enjoy exploring yours, be proactive (yet also patient), learn some new skills, research what other people with similar interests to you have done and how they got there, and you’ll be amazed at what opportunities you will stumble upon.