By: Shaun Shepherd
We have been called the broke, immature, and entitled generation. Time Magazine called us “lazy-entitled narcissists.” Forbes claimed that we are destroying the housing market with our “Live-at-Home Lifestyle.” Collectively, we are a generation of 20-somethings who have yet to reach the greatness of our parents—or their parents, for that matter.
We are the known as the Millennial Generation. And, frankly, being a Millennial is tough.
The continued analysis of the Millennial Generation has often been from the perspective of Baby Boomers who have been quick to blame Millennials for their failure to launch.
Even though it was the Baby Boomers who held the launch codes.
The perception of the Millennial Generation has been largely over-simplified. The reality is a much more complex and messy narrative. Trust me on this one. We learned that the world was complex from you, Boomers.
In fact, Millennials are the most educated generation in history. Spurred towards higher education on the praise and encouragement of Boomers, Millennials enrolled in post-secondary institutions in record numbers. According to Statistics Canada, full-time post-secondary enrollment increased by 39 per cent from 1997 to 2008.
The Boomers made it easier for us to finance our education with the expansion of national and private student loan services. And for this we are forever indebted to you. According to the Canadian Federation of Students, the average university student will graduate with $37 000 in public and private debt
The impact of an indebted generation has lasting effects. Student loan borrowers tend to be less likely to generate significant savings, make financial investments, and make large purchases.
The impact of which could weaken future economic growth.
To add insult to injury, Millennials are graduating into the troughs of a global recession. Those eager to find work are faced with a labour market depleted of opportunity. In Toronto, youth unemployment has been as high as 18 per cent, as reported by the CBC.
The difficulties for Millennials’ joining the labour force have been exacerbated by Boomers forced to return to the work force beyond the usual retirement age due to investments weakened by the recession.
The new economic reality has pushed Millennials to embrace any and all opportunity to gain work experience —without exception. It is under such conditions that our generation has reluctantly embraced the unpaid internship.
“Working for free, by the way, is supposed to be against the law,” decried Boomer and CBC host Rick Mercer, in an October rant.
Unpaid internships are an increasingly prevalent job opportunity that subvert the long-standing cultural practice of paying employees for work. Boomers were notorious for championing socially subversive counter-cultures. Perhaps the unpaid internship is the latest iteration of the Boomer consciousness.
Let’s hope so. We are tired of cleaning up after your catastrophes, Boomers.
The preceding views are not necessarily shared by the newspaper
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-opinion/unpaid-internships/.