For the last hundred odd years in the western world, we have been following these guidelines and whether we are aware of the process or not, we are indoctrinated when we start pre-school. However, we can’t check out this proverbial system until we reach high school. In the instance in which we keep going, we are encouraged to enroll in college, learn a trade or join the military. One could go straight into the workforce and partake in a service job where they are trained to do a specific task but couldn’t that place workers in long-term paradox if they only know one skill?

On this journey of climbing the ladder to adulthood, what humans fail to realize is how encouraged we are to succeed. From pre-k on up to college, trade school, or even the military, there are guidelines and standards these organizations and institutions must adhere to. The student or worker is protected to a greater extent than they realize. In all these circumstances, advancement to the next step is highly encouraged. Therefore one’s inability to produce in the systems is the direct responsibility of the institution. The more competent, able bodies in the workforce, the stronger our economy as people have jobs and are spending money; all instances indicate the human subject has more support than often perceived.

Then there is the corporate world and large private companies will absorb the talent pool of college graduates for the most part. The college degree that one worked rigorously to attain was to earn a skilled-white color job or work in an industry where obtaining a bachelor’s degree was the barrier to entry. Let’s not forget that a college degree has an enormous price tag. These unique circumstances place immense pressure on college students to select a major that will give them a great return on their investment in regards to earning potential post-college. The idea is that the higher wages earned in more lucrative industries will lead to some stability as they look to get their adult life and professional career off the ground and running.

When analyzing how this game works, the dirty little secret I discovered is that college graduates’ talent pool has become saturated and I believe this is by design. Over the last 30 years, many people attained degrees with no career trajectory. Many companies had more candidates seeking employment than they could ever imagine and the result is the employee becomes incredibly replaceable. Many organizations invest in their executives and in some cases, mid-level management. However, their payroll scraps go to the college graduate who is still uncertain of their path in life and needs a moderate salary to cover rent and begin paying back their loans. The irony of this all is that loans were taken out to enroll in college and get a job in the first place.

And so it begins, the hamster wheel. The young professional’s monthly expenses will only go up with age; however, in this corporate world, there is no support. The organization is not invested in your success, they maintain all the leverage in your employment given the fact that in moments of crisis, people will do anything for a job therefore, all workers are disposable. What used to be the reward for shouldering this burden was health insurance. Many baby boomers place this as the utmost priority. However, I would hypothesize many of my millennials counterparts would opt for a sense of belonging and professional development over health insurance when you are 26 years old, single with no children. Well, what is it that we want from an employer because a paycheck will only keep you afloat until the next one?

Ask and you shall receive. I believe that for 21st-century workers to be invested in their work and perform at a high-level, they must be clear on what their expectations are for the job. There is no one to hold the corporation accountable, and they can do whatever they want regarding your employment. Establish your value and set the parameters, and understand these dynamics. When your employers know what you are about, they will be inclined to accommodate your needs, but you must have a vision in place and long-term goals to take control of your career.

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