Forget College. Get Money.
If you’re neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor. — Desmond Tutu
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. — MLK
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politically correct, nor popular, but she must do it because her conscience tells her it is right.— MLK
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of reading stuff like ”Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy” that ridicules, blames and generalizes us for “our unhappiness.” If you want to read more condescending stuff about us, check this out.
Are you aware of the amount of crap that gets published about us every single day?
Let’s talk numbers
Did you know there are 83 million of us “Millennials” currently? We’re 26% of the entire population. (You’re considered a Millennial or member of Generation Y if you were born between 1982–2000 — give or take a year)
We comprise 35% of the workforce, and by 2020 we’ll make up 46% of the working population.
In 2011, 21 million of us were enrolled in colleges across the United States yet only an estimated 2 million of us completed an internship; or in other words, 86% of us didn’t take on any internships and therefore didn’t gain any professional experience in college.
Older generations say we’re lazy and entitled and that’s why we don’t intern, which just shows how ignorant they are. If you come across one of these ignoramuses, stand up for yourself and your peers, and rattle of this list of legit reasons we don’t intern (backed by data).
Internships require a massive amount of resources (i.e. money and time).
You must pay your university to intern “legally.”
Ever wonder why employers require you to get college credit for their unpaid internship?
If you’re thinking: To cover their asses and not get sued; you’re correct.
Let’s walk through the cost of my own internship experience in college.
I attended University of Central Florida (UCF), one of the least expensive public 4-year universities around, but I had to drop out because I just couldn’t afford it.
Let’s forget about tuition, and just review UCF’s cost per credit hour, which is $212 per hour. Now, consider that typically one college course (or internship) is worth between 3–4 credit hours.
$212 x 3.5 credit hours = $742 (for 1 unpaid internship)
As a journalism student, my program required that I complete an internship or two. Here’s how they decided on how many credit hours the internship I did was worth:
Notice how the more hours you work this unpaid internship, the more money you have to fork over to your university.
So a 3-month, 40-hour-per-week, unpaid internship costs a UCF journalism student in the ballpark of:
$212 per credit hour x 6 credit hours = $1,272 (for 1 unpaid internship)
That’s a lot of money to pay to work for free with absolutely no guarantee of employment, valuable experience, quality projects to work on, etc. And that’s the lowest of the low end of the spectrum here. I won’t delve into private universities’ astronomical price tags.
Internships contribute to increased inequality and widen the current Skills Gap.
In short, internships are a total injustice and the epitome of a catch-22.
If you don’t intern, you’re probably most definitely not going to get a job. I am willing to bet my left arm on it.
Internships are a luxury that people in power consider a requirement. To be exact, 91% of companies expect grads to have 1–2 internships on their resumes, even though the majority of them rarely hire their interns.
And, honestly, why would they hire (i.e. pay) you when they can replace you with a new wildly motivated freshman, who is just dying to gain experience and totally willing to work for free — just like you were and did. This is how we intern ourselves out of jobs, BTW.
Stats prove that the minority of students, who do intern, are able to because their families have the resources to support them so they don’t have to pay their own bills.
According to Intern Bridge, 64% of students report they’d have to work a SECOND job if they accepted an unpaid internship (in addition to their college workload). And only 35% of students report their parents would help them financially if they chose to undertake an unpaid internship.
Therefore, it’s exceptionally fair to claim that unpaid internships contribute to making wealthy students wealthier and poor students poorer. Why? Because employers are always going to hire the graduate with professional experience for their full-time job, and wealthier students are the ones able to participate in these unpaid internships.
There’s a massive skills gap between someone with internship experience who has practice before entering the workplace and the student whose first job is also their first practical work experience.
A college degree does NOT guarantee you’ll get a good job. In fact, the majority of grads are underemployed or unemployed.
A college degree by itself is NOT going to get you a job. This isn’t my opinion. It’s a cold-hard (and fucked up) fact.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 48% of employed U.S. college grads are in jobs that require less than a four-year degree.
”It’s a huge problem because students think a degree is going to get them a job. They think an internship is going to get them a job,” Dan Schawbel, NY Times and WSJ Bestselling Author and Freelanship advisor, says. “Then employers are requiring these internships, but they’re not hiring their interns. It’s a huge dilemma.”
A study by The Chronicle of Higher Education asked employers specifically what they were looking for in new college grads:
”Only one of the top five priorities they listed related to candidates’ academic experience, even though this study was focused solely on new graduates who have yet to take a full-time job.”
Am I the only one who wants to strangle every single person who told you a college degree is the only way you’ll get a good job?
Employers are ageists.
I can see all the baby boomers rolling their eyes now over no. 4 — like ageism isn’t a “real” prejudice and inequality — one as serious and messed up as racism and sexism.
Significantly more young people are unemployed and underemployed compared to older people.
Look at the significant differences in percentage of unemployed people below the age of 25 compared to everyone else:
And here’s the same chart but this time it looks at the percentage differences of the underemployed:
Many older people (Baby Boomers) make bold accusations about all young people that are entirely subjective-based.
Just look at this answer from some anonymous old person on the Quora question: Why do baby boomers hate millennials?
This Quora user explains this problem perfectly:
“Baby Boomers are the most egotistical, self centered, narcissistic group of people in putting their ego in an immediate conversation over obtaining results and understanding on all sides.”
Older generations are ignorant.
Baby boomers grew up in a totally different time than us, which leads them to make ignorant statements like: “I paid and worked and did 800 other things while I went to college. Stop complaining, and just do it.”
If anyone ever says this to you, send them a link to this The Atlantic article, which proves they actually had it easier than us.
“A lot of Internet ink has been spilled over how lazy and entitled Millennials are, but when it comes to paying for a college education, work ethic isn’t the limiting factor. The economic cards are stacked such that today’s average college student, without support from financial aid and family resources, would need to complete 48 hours of minimum-wage work a week to pay for his courses — a feat that would require superhuman endurance, or maybe a time machine.”
And according to Randy Olson, a postdoctoral researcher working at the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Biomedical Informatics, it’s impossible to work your way through college nowadays.
Modern students have to work as much as 6x longer to pay for college than 30 years ago. Given the reports that a growing number of college students are working minimum wage jobs, this spells serious trouble for any student who hopes to work their way through college without any additional support.
Let’s crunch a few more numbers to see what a typical year would look like for a student in 1979 and 2013 working her way through college. Most students take 12 credit hours per semester and only attend Fall and Spring semester. That’s 24 credit hours per year.
The 1979 student would have to work about 10 weeks at a part-time job (203 hours) — basically, they could pay for tuition just by working part-time over the Summer. In contrast, the 2013 student would have to work for 35 ½ weeks (1420 hours) — over half the year — at a full-time job to pay for the same number of credit hours. If you’ve ever attended college full-time, you know that this is basically impossible.
Fun fact: If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.
The Blame Game: Who’s responsible here?
And they know they’re doing damage,
’Cause they see the student loan debt clock don’t stop
And they know we’ve got another advantage
We can blame them for everything.
(Inspired by: Kanye)
I’ll say what everyone else won’t: It’s not young people. It’s old people.
They’re absolutely terrible at investing in the right opportunities. Less than a decade ago, they were responsible for massively wrecking the U.S. economy.
This stupidity is known as the housing bubble. It’s when old people incorrectly believed they had to own house, and they bet massive amounts of money they didn’t actually have to get their very own home.
Not even 10 years later, the same helicopter, my-way-or-the-highway nags who blew up our economy because they wanted to own a house are convincing young people to commit the same stupidity they did.
This time it isn’t about houses. It’s about education.
We’re in the middle of an Education Bubble that’s about to pop and no one is even talking about it.
“A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” Peter Thiel says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”
Like the housing bubble, the education bubble is about security and insurance against the future. Both whisper a seductive promise into the ears of worried Americans: Do this and you will be safe. The excesses of both were always excused by a core national belief that no matter what happens in the world, these were the best investments you could make. Housing prices would always go up, and you will always make more money if you are college educated.
“Like any good bubble, this belief– while rooted in truth– gets pushed to unhealthy levels. Thiel talks about consumption masquerading as investment during the housing bubble, as people would take out speculative interest-only loans to get a bigger house with a pool and tell themselves they were being frugal and saving for retirement. Similarly, the idea that attending Harvard is all about learning? Yeah. No one pays a quarter of a million dollars just to read Chaucer. The implicit promise is that you work hard to get there, and then you are set for life. It can lead to an unhealthy sense of entitlement. “It’s what you’ve been told all your life, and it’s how schools rationalize a quarter of a million dollars in debt,” Thiel says. (Source)
No one is talking about it because the people in power are reaping massive benefits from this bubble, and everyone is too scared to go against this dogma.
I take that back. There is one person trying to bring awareness to the bubble — Thiel:
“Higher education holds itself out as a kind of universal church, outside of which there is no salvation. Critics are cast as heretics or schismatics endangering the flock. But our greatest danger comes from the herd instinct that drives us to competition and crowds out difference.” — Peter Thiel
Let’s get specific
Three entities have joined forces, creating a mutually beneficial, bulletproof alliance. The relationship between young people and this alliance is like relationship between Superman and Kryptonite:
Kryptonite’s effect on Superman varies between adaptations of the story, with some depicting Superman as merely weakened with his powers blocked and others showing him collapsing and completely unable to move. Either way, though, kryptonite gives the villain an easy advantage over Superman and if a villain understands how it works, he could strategically use its effects to defeat the man of steel. (Source)
- Universities: They require students to complete internships because that makes them money (the price you pay in credit hours)
- Employers: Companies pay anywhere from $5000 to a whopping $18,000 to get a booth at those 1-hour career fairs your school holds twice a year (yet they can’t pay you to intern for them?). Oh, and don’t forget the cost of online internship ads, which aren’t cheap (Again, money they could allocate to you, but don’t).
- The Government: The people who are supposed to protect us are in one of the rogues. So it’s not surprising that they provide zero protection for interns. Their reasoning is that interns aren’t considered employees since that’d be illegal to not pay an employee. On top of this, regulators aren’t implementing any (literally ZERO) firm laws and regulations around internships.
I want to repeat the numbers I shared with you at the very beginning of this post because they’re important.
- 83 million of us “Millennials currently? We’re 26% of the entire population. We’re the largest consumer group. That’s why everyone on the Internet is frantically trying to figure us out — they want our money (that we don’t have to spend because they don’t give us jobs #stupidity).
- Millennials comprise 35% of the workforce, and by 2020 we’ll make up 46% of the working population.
- Millennials are approximately five years away from making up more than 50% of the workplace.
The numbers don’t lie. The most votes win. There’s safety in numbers.
We (Millennials) significantly outnumber our suppressors, which means we have a choice.
Option 1: We can accept that this is just the way shit works in the United States and become a bunch of educated derelicts, who work at Starbucks and live with their parents forever and never feel the elixir of financial independence.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” (Source)
Option 2: We band together and confiscate control from the leaders who’ve sweetly ripped us of our independence by: lending us a shit ton of money at exorbitant interest rates; providing us with an endless supply of unpaid work opportunities that cost us hundreds and thousands of dollars each; and then tossing our resumes in the trash when we finally apply for a paid full-time job.
Maybe I’m an anomaly, but I think option 1 is really freakin’ shitty.
So here’s the deal
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m fully self-sufficient and do work that I love for the companies decide to work with.
Since dropping out years ago, only two people have asked me why I don’t have education listed on my resume — two — that’s it. Because all that matters is your proven, real-world, relatable experience.
I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m telling you this because I’m tired of being the only one who speaks up.
“I speak on this generation but can’t change it alone…” — Drake
5 Ways to Start Drawing the Line
We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.— Nelson Mandela
Stop working for free, and stop paying so much money for an education.
In case you need one more reason to refuse to work for free, here you go:
The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a recent survey that questioned the correlation between internships and full employment upon graduation.The findings were astonishing.
Hiring rates for those who had chosen to complete an unpaid internship (37%) were almost the same for those who had not completed any internship at all (35%). Students who had any history of a paid internship, on the other hand, were far more likely (63%) to secure employment.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Buckminster Fuller
You may be wondering: How do I gain experience then?
Register for Freelanship, which provides paid, short-term, remote, valuable freelance projects that add pieces to your portfolio and professional connections you can utilize in the future.
Adopt the “Can’t Count on Anyone” mindset.
Google. Read A LOT. Experiment. Be introspective. Work the Internet — the Internet is your oyster. Be aware of what the most in-demand skills are according to employers — not your university. Train yourself; no one else is going to (except me…).
Become a master negotiator.
Ramit Sethi taught me everything I know about getting everything I want from employers.
Research what everyone else is getting paid for the same work.
Here’s a few great resources:
- Most People Don’t Know if They’re Paid Fairly
- Freelance writer database rates
- Talk to other freelancers. Ask them what they’re charging. Work with each other to get more — not less — than you’re worth.
- The Creative Class — This teaches you so much about pricing if you’re going to freelance
- A bunch of salary calculators via Product Hunt search
Start a conversation or contribute to an ongoing one.
Create a blog on Medium and teach people how to do stuff.
This is an amazing way to assert yourself as an expert, and get employers coming to you.
And when you see someone fighting for your rights online, don’t privately thank them. Publicly thank them by responding to the trolls who leave nasty comments.
This is just the beginning. If you believe in this cause then don’t keep it to yourself. Bring awareness to the issue and share it with everyone you know.
Today (Mar 7), I’ve launched an exclusive beta version of Full Stack Marketer, a course based on my proven framework for gaining experience, landing jobs and getting paid.
Check it out here.
PS: Only the first 20 people get in because I’m working with these individuals personally. =)