MintFamily With Beth Kobliner: A New Career Path for the Millennial Generation

Family Finances

Do you ever wonder what your kids will be when they grow up? Or, given the economy, do you worry whether they’ll be able to get their dream job or any job at all?

Our current job market is tough for early 20-somethings: half are either jobless or underemployed, meaning their jobs don’t take advantage of their skills and education. (Picture an accounting major working as a fry cook.)

However, they may be better prepared than we were to take an unconventional career route. A recent MTV survey of the Millennial Generation (those born after 1981) revealed that your kids may not have the same career goals you did.

But, hey, when have kids ever thought exactly like their parents? Here are four things that today’s parents need to understand about our kids’ future careers:

They want to create their own careers.

The workplace of the future will be far more flexible than the one that older generations knew. Increasingly, employers are open to offering flex time and scads of workers are going freelance or starting their own businesses. Because of this, young people have a more creative approach to their own career path.

According to the MTV survey, 66% of Millennials say they want to invent their own positions at their jobs and 60% say that if they can’t find a job, they’ll “figure out a way to create my own.”

Optimistic? Yes. But more realistic than the same plan might have been a generation ago.

They’re after more than just money.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, your children are not willing to take any old job just to pay the rent. MTV found that young workers value “loving what I do” over salary and half of them would rather be unemployed than take a job they hate. That could explain why so many of them are living at home: 53% of 18- to 24-year-olds currently live or have lived with their parents within the last few years, according to a recent Pew survey.

They don’t draw a line between work and personal life.

When MTV asked Millennials to draw a picture of their work dress code vs. “play” dress code, young people drew almost the same image (women just added bangles and hairspray for a night out), while Baby Boomers drew completely different outfits on themselves.

That’s an indication that Millennials overwhelmingly want a job where they can be themselves; they don’t see a stark divide between their work self and home self. In fact, 71% say they want their coworkers to be like a second family to them.

Your daughters are more ambitious than your sons.

Women make up the majority of college grads these days and another recent Pew survey found that they’re more ambitious than the boys, too. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, two-thirds of young women put their careers high on their list of life priorities, but only 59% of young men say the same.

That’s a major reversal; just 15 years ago, young men were more ambitious than young women. This means parents shouldn’t expect their daughters to follow old-fashioned career paths. Heck, the same goes for their sons: the number of men who opt to stay home with their kids is on the rise.

When you ask your kids what they want to be when they grow up, what do they say? Do you notice a generational shift in career aspirations?

© 2012 Beth Kobliner, All Rights Reserved

Beth Kobliner is a personal finance commentator and journalist, the author of the New York Times bestseller “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties,” and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability. Visit her at, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.



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