As I See It

The problem with being a ‘Gen-Y’er today

Updated: 2014-01-01T23:14:48Z

By VANESSA WATERS

Special to The Star

I have a four-year degree from a respected university, great references, good job experience and I applied for unemployment recently.

That statement could probably apply to half of the people from my graduating class. You see, when we entered college in the fall of 2006, we had spent the past 12 years being taught that we could do or be anything that we wanted.

So we picked degrees based on what would make us happy — because as children of the ’90s — that’s what mattered most.

We had our ideal job situations chosen, exact career paths planned. We were driven, intelligent, and excited to grow up. So we became teachers, musicians, artists and technicians.

And most of us aren’t working in those career fields because right now being us sucks.

Older generations (our parents, grandparents, and all around baby boomers) blame laziness, television, video games and about a billion other things on our inability to become “functioning members of society,” which is ridiculous.

If I have to hear one more of my elders talk about the importance of face-to-face contact, responsibility, or drive, there’s a chance I might become homicidal. And I say that with complete respect.

We’ve been completely disillusioned and not in the same way as people from other generations. There’s no such thing as employer loyalty, job security or retirement for us.

We’re great with technology. We grew up IMing until the wee hours of the morning, took online classes, made Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram what they are today, but at the same time technology has completely screwed us over.

I don’t get to drop off a resume or application and impress them with my nice suit and friendly personality.

I have to fill out pages and pages of pointless information and silly questions to be thrown into a database, where they’re likely never read.

I’m told not to call or email and when, inevitably, I get an automated rejection, and that’s that.

There’s no one to call or clarify anything, no one to explain what I was lacking. Those are all the things our elders tell us to do, because they think we’re too lazy to do it.

And it’s not just me. I can easily name half a dozen of my close friends who are in the same boat.

For us, the future is bleak: we can’t imagine owning homes, paying off mortgages or retiring. It’s a bit overwhelming, which is why we like to drink, play video games and binge-watch television on Netflix. It’s a coping mechanism — at least it is for me.

I have four years of schooling, two teaching certificates, two years of great experience, and one dead career.

My resume looks clean and is filled with valuable information, my reference letters are written by intelligent leading members of their fields, and I know a bunch of people in surrounding schools. But none of that has gotten me anywhere but my couch with my laptop and a folder filled with bland rejection emails.

It doesn’t matter how great my resume is, how well-suited I am for a job or even who I know.

I can’t get a teaching job and I’m “overqualified” for the other kinds.

I’m not sure why that’s a bad thing, but apparently it is. I’d love to work at a university library or writing center, or teach online courses (all for which I have experience), but either no one is reading my (well-written) cover letters or they think I’m making it up.

So I applied for unemployment — a process never discussed in my 16 years of education, I might add — and in my community that’s pretty taboo.

My situation is looked down upon; you can hear it in the way they discuss other “youths” (who are in the same situation as I am).

How does that make sense? You’re the same generation who taught us, who complains about technology and at the same time is implementing it in a way that hinders us.

I’m not asking for a lot, I’d just like to be in a classroom showing kids how freaking awesome literature is, or how much power they have through student journalism.

But at this point, all my future holds is applying for unemployment (which is a weekly thing, I think?) and binge-watching “The Walking Dead.”

An unemployed teacher, Vanessa Waters of Parkville is a graduate of Park Hill South High School and the University of Central Missouri.

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