In The Globe And Mail last year, an anonymous 29-year-old wrote in to describe the difficulty he’s had finding a well-paid, stable career in a corporate environment and has been getting by on short-term marketing contract jobs. After his letter was published, a few corporate recruiters got in touch with the letter writer and helped him with his resume, which has led to … more contract jobs. From last week’s followup by the Globe:
How was turning 30?
Awful. I didn’t think I’d be here at 30. I thought I’d be a little more settled. By the time my parents were 30, they had kids, they had their first place and they had their careers reasonably settled on. That’s not really the case with me.
Where are you right now?
I’ve done more contract work with various marketing and promo companies. It’s been awesome as far as gaining experience and more contacts.
Are you on a contract as we speak?
No, I’m between contracts.
In response to the letter, Tom Smith, another 29-year-old who works at an advertising agency, wrote in to the Globe to offer his perspective as someone who has worked a steady job he enjoys:
This is hard to swallow, but the people who will get their dream jobs are already doing their dream jobs before they get hired. You wanna be an accountant? Start doing your friends’ taxes. You wanna work in an ad agency? Make spec ads for your friends’ and family’s small businesses. Wanna be a journalist? Start making YouTube videos. Mechanic? Fix some cars. Teacher? Tutor poor kids. Yeah, you gotta make money. So sling coffee. And be darn well passionate about it. Find a coffee shop you love and pitch yourself to them, so you can make a few bucks an hour to support your weekends of doing your dream job for free. That’s how economies work. People do things. Real things in the real world with grease and sweat and moving parts and grit. Your credentials are theory. Familiarize yourself with the concept “necessary but not sufficient.” The suit does not make the (wo)man.
I think Smith’s advice here is a little simplistic, but agree that people who are passionate about what they do, and find ways to continue to do the thing they love, even if it’s on the side, are digging in the right direction. But passion alone doesn’t always cut it. Having a mentor helps a lot—I can’t stress this enough. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the mentors I’ve had in my life, and I have two young people I’m mentoring now who I’m happy to offer advice to any time day or night. And having all the passion in the world won’t do you much if you’re not actually good at what you do, so honing those skills are important. Lastly, for the sake of the original letter writer, we shouldn’t discount that Gen Y entered the job market during one of the worst recessions in history, and that many of them are saddled with massive amounts of education debt. It’s easy to dish out advice, but we should also provide some context.
(Thanks to Ashleigh for sending the Globe story!)
Photo: Alex Indigo