What #firstsevenjobs teaches us about millennials
When celebrities tweeted with their #FirstSevenJobs, many were relatable. Regina Spektor worked as a babysitter, medical office temp, piano tech assistant, office assistant, page turner, butterfly farmer, and social work assistant. Likewise, Stephen Colbert worked as a construction worker, busboy, cafeteria server, library data entry worker, futon frame maker, and waiter.
I followed the trend.
I grew up outside of Ocean City, a resort town on the Jersey Shore. As a teenager, my job market was predominately in the seasonal tourism industry. It was nearly impossible to get a job during the off-season, especially since I didn’t yet drive.
I started working at age 15 in the summer of 2009. I was a beach tag inspector for my town’s municipal department. Beach tags were required for anyone visiting the beach, starting at $5 a day per person. It wasn’t the most thrilling job, but at least I got to read books most of day.
After two months working 40 hours a week, I picked up another job as an ice cream server. I worked until around 4 p.m., and then I’d go to my second job at 5:30 p.m. I’d sometimes be there past midnight. And I had only just turned 16 that same summer!
The pattern repeated next summer, when I worked as a ride operator. When I was done working by the beach, I’d clock into the night shift at children’s amusement park.
My next jobs followed a similar pattern. In college, I worked as a library aide, resident assistant, campaign canvasser, and web editor. For a semester, I was working all four at once.
Of course, my employment history goes past seven. I also worked as a substitute teacher in college. Since graduating in May 2015, I’ve had three more positions: newspaper reporter, copywriter, and (most recently) freelance writer.
I’ve worked 11 jobs so far in my life. I’m only 23 years old. This number doesn’t account for uncompensated work, like internships. If it did, I’d be far closer to 20.
Many of these jobs overlapped as well.
I learned to handle more than one job within the first two months of working full-time. I knew this wasn’t normal, but this is how I had to compensate growing up in a working-class household.
I didn’t complain about it, either; I was happy to be employed and eager to work. My peers and adults often recognized my work ethic, too.
I’m not alone, either. According to Gallup, millennials are labeled as the job-hopping generation.
Six in 10 of us are open to new job opportunities, and we’re more likely to switch jobs compared to any other generation.
If this essay wasn’t written by a millennial, I’d wonder why on Earth millennials change jobs so often, or maybe even joke about how their first seven jobs were all unpaid internships. (Good one!)
However, it is written by a millennial. We change jobs because we know better. Most of the jobs I’ve had I left because I moved away. I was fired from two. I left the marketing job because I started making more money as a freelancer.
We might not be choosing to job hop. I know I’m not.
Not to mention, previous generations’ #firstsevenjobs might differ, in the sense that their current position is included in that short list of seven. Or maybe they can’t even get to number seven in the first place. My seventh job only gets me to 21 years old.
The job market is precarious and we all know it. I was worried about finding a job after college graduation while I was still in high school.