Woeful employment prospects for millennials remain an unwelcome remnant of the Great Recession. According to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for those job seekers between ages 20-24 in June 2013 stood at a stubbornly high 13.5%. For many of those young faces behind those statistics, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" has become "what will you pay me to do when I grow up?"
This harsh dose of reality is further highlighted in a March 2013 survey conducted by the National Society for High School Scholars in which millennials were asked to rank companies where they would most desire to be employed. Ironically, for a generation so stereotypically wedded to aspirations toward sweeping cultural changes, the preferences of these millennials look surprisingly 1990-ish. A list of the top 75 companies is provided below:
See the full list Here.
Instead of these results producing an expected array of non-profits and a flight from all things corporate America, millennials largely embraced the companies and brands that have driven the economy for the past few decades in these results. Predictably, technology/media companies and charities make a strong showing on this list. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dreamworks, St. Jude’s, Teach for America and various health care organizations comprised a sizable portion of this upper tier. Familiar upstarts that have risen on the millennial dollar, including Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Whole Foods, also take their expected place among desirable employers.
However, for every organization that breaks the corporate mold, there are several seemingly ageless corporate stalwarts in which business-as-usual is ok for millennials. Ford Motor Company, JPMorgan Chase, J. C. Penney, Hershey’s, AT&T, and various government organizations are just a few examples of companies for which the grandparents of many millennials potentially may have worked. The staying power of these traditional entities is where the real moral of this story lies.
All stereotypes aside, these survey results suggest that millennials are not asking to change the world; they just want to smooth out some rough edges and settle into the prosperity their parents enjoyed so thoroughly during their childhoods. Millennials were undoubtedly born into the most uniformly free and prosperous country in human history. Corporate America has been the driving factor in providing that standard of living to the masses. While millennials may balk at some of the more antiquated aspects of corporate culture, these results evince anything but a wholesale rejection of those entities. While millennials often traffic in seemingly-contradictory ideals about the meaning of success and the notion of a fulfilling life, at their core they adhere to the same materialism that drove their parents in the boom decade of the 1990's. Doing well by doing good may be the millennial ideal.
In fact, there is no better illustration of this notion than the fact that St. Jude stands at No. 1 in these results. However, most millennials will not gain the material standard of living they enjoyed while growing up by taking the vow of austerity that a life of service often requires. The compromise is to pressure the attainable corporate leviathan to trim its claws a bit while pining for a surprisingly traditional version of our parents' lives.
As much as some millennials may be loathe to admit, we enjoy 2500 square feet with a white picket fence as much as we enjoy finding work that will provide more than a paycheck. As the results from this survey demonstrate, we prefer to give up neither. However, current millennial employment prospects undoubtedly influence us to follow our parents' example into a slightly kinder and gentler version of the old familiar. That's not necessarily a bad thing. That's where we came from; and look how we turned out.