Millennials are the first generation that truly view work as part of their identity. With this comes a series of multiple career changes as they seek the ‘right’ one, the one that best represents them. This, according to LinkedIn, means millennials will have up to four job changes before they are 32. But could that mean they're more likely to be successful and happy in life?
While Generation Xers and Baby Boomers viewed a degree as the first step into a 40-year secure job, the rules of the game have changed. Whereas previous generations saw their job merely as a means for security and to pay their mortgage and bills, millennials strive for careers that fulfil them, and act as extensions of their personality.
During the nineties and early noughties new graduates flocked to big name banks and corporate culture, but disenchantment with this status quo set in following the last financial crisis. Now, graduates are enticed by entrepreneurship and start-up jobs where they see attractive working cultures and a way of creating meaningful impact that they don’t associate with big corporate companies.
Now more than ever, it is also easier to start your own company. A couple years ago, at 19, I knew I didn't want to work for one of the big banks and wanted to build something while at college. I launched a website called Studypool, and ended up dropping out of university to move the company to Silicon Valley. And I'm not the only one. 66 per cent of millennials want to leave their steady careers to jump start their own ventures, according to a study by Bentley.
The younger working generation no longer view the City, Wall Street or prestigious consulting and corporate jobs as the be all in their careers. Many who started in the big banks grew disillusioned and began to question how their lives could have more meaning. It is a push back from the cog in the machine mentality that has defined so much of the workforce up to now.
While figuring out how to build a meaningful career, millennials are changing their path and focus many times, and increasingly leaning in to entrepreneurship, and its skill set. Millennials recognise the value in building networks, ‘pivots’ in direction, and embracing risk. Even when working within larger organisations they have the attitude of entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs who build their own personal brand, and spearhead new initiatives.
They are also able to capitalise on and be confident of their tech fluency, and available information. As we all know, almost any business related question can be answered with enough research on Google. A study by Elance-oDesk and Millennial Branding showed that 82 per cent of millennials believe it is easier to start a business than ever before. All of the documents you need to incorporate a company can be found online, along with interviews and advice from CEOs about distribution, sales and growth. With enough focus and determination, it is cheaper and simpler than it has even been to become an entrepreneur, a fact that is not lost on millennials.
With the rise of the contractor economy, freelancing and 'side gigs' are also on the rise, especially for millennials. Creative and resourceful types may be putting in the hours at a nine to five office job while also pursuing more of an independent attitude outside of their traditional work. Corporates are also taking design and programming classes after work at schools like General Assembly to acquire the digital skills to make the next leap.
So whether starting their own businesses, or finding opportunity within their workplace and embracing an entrepreneurial mindset, it seems that millennials are born to take more career risks than any generation before. The next question is: how can we best support this new, more adventurous and rapidly changing career mindset?