27 November 2015

A millennial’s concise survival guide

Author :

I used to be that student who would stay at uni until 2:30 am about 4 times a week during the three weeks leading up to finals. I would also be that student who would be in the library at 6 am the next day to get the best, quietest seats in the library.

I ran on Red Bull (the sugar-free one, because I had to take care of my health, ya know?) and I would shut down anyone around me to be able to concentrate on my books. Seriously, I was terrible to be around.

I could sanely (sort of) manage this workload because I knew it was temporary. Work your heart out to get the results you want, and then you get to rest. Once you enter the ‘real world’ workforce, the ongoing madness isn’t only for three weeks anymore: it can literally become your life if you let it.

Although we often hear about millennials who act like they are entitled to everything, think they know so much more than you and are so much better than older folks in general, the reality is that these little brats only represent a small proportion of millennials and give us all a bad name. I think it’s much fairer to say that younger workers are absurdly self-demanding, obsessive-compulsive perfectionists like me.

As far as I’m aware, there isn’t a survival guide for millennials entering the workforce. I’d love to write one, but I’m still trying to keep my head above water myself, so I’m probably not in the best position to write this book right now. But hey, while I’m busy gaining life experience and trying to avoid a nervous breakdown, here is a millennials concise survival guide:

  1. It’s not because you can work all the time that you should.
  2. Turn off that damn mobile.
  3. World leaders also live in a world with 24 hour days and manage on exercising. ‘I don’t have time’ is a pathetic excuse to avoid working out. MAKE THE TIME.
  4. It’s so much easier to go to McDonald’s to buy a Big Mac, diet Coke and chips than it is to make the time to cook, but don’t you dare complain to anyone if you feel like a big fat potato – mentally and physically. By eating out, you lose your body-shaming right (not that we ever endorse body shaming). To be fair, the last thing you want to do after a full day of work and an hour at the gym (remember point 2!) is to start cooking dinner. My suggestion is to set aside a few hours every weekend during which you cook meals in bulk and freeze for the week/two weeks ahead.
  5. Oh yeah, and this goes for lunches as well. Cook a big batch of lentils and/or quinoa and chop up some veggies for the week and throw some of these together along with a little bit of olive oil, lemon, red wine vinegar, pepper, garlic salt & herbs blend and voilĂ ! Two minutes and you can put together a healthy lunch that will carry you through your long afternoon.
  6. Find a mentor. Someone who will be able to guide you through the technical stuff, help you acquire new skills for your perfect job while giving you that kick and slap in the face, telling you to get over yourself and get your shit together.

I will hand point 7 over to Yoga Jones from Orange Is The New Black:

Yoga Jones: Do you know what a mandala is?
Piper Chapman: Um, those are those round Buddhist art things.
Yoga Jones: The Tibetan monks make then out of dark sand laid out into big beautiful designs. And when they're done, after days or weeks of work, they wipe it all away.
Piper Chapman: Wow, that's, that's a lot.
Yoga Jones: Try to look at your experience here as a mandala, Chapman. Work hard to make something as meaningful and beautiful as you can. And when you’re done, pack it in and know it was all temporary.

Work shouldn’t feel like prison, buuuuut… it sometimes does.

Your current job is not your dream job – and it shouldn’t be. Imagine getting your dream job in your 20s/early 30s? That would mean that the rest of your working-life is downhill from there. Now THAT is depressing.


8. Pick your battles. There will always be a terrible colleague whose head you want to rip off. Just be nice. Smile, nod and move on. Save your energy for something that’s worth it. The only person you will ever be able to change is yourself anyway.
9. Do not settle. This may seem a little ironic after saying earlier that a lot of millennials are perfectionists, but it is so easy to become disillusioned about job prospects in a day in age where, well, there aren’t job prospects if you aren’t looking to go in sales or finance. You are allowed to look for better options and there will be better options. Worried that you don’t have enough experience? It only takes one employer who will take a leap of faith and give you a chance, so make sure to put yourself out there in order for this employer to give you that chance!
10. Network. Network. Network. You might not feel like going out and sipping bad wine with people you don’t know, but remember that 80% of available jobs are not advertised and opportunities lie in your second-degree connections.


Again, by no means am I an expert on how to survive as a millennial, but I am an expert at being a struggling millennial who strives for a fulfilling career and a balanced life. 

Although Alexandra didn’t know much about conference production before first coming across this opportunity with Akolade, she has quickly become passionate about her job. Gaining in-depth knowledge in a variety of new fields without going through exam stress? Who could ask for more? If ever you speak to Alexandra and wonder what that funny accent is, it is from Quebec, French-speaking Canada. Do not hesitate to ask Alexandra about her former life on the 47th parallel; she will be thrilled to talk to you about snow storms, skiing and -35⁰c!

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