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Life, Technology

The Tried Is No Longer Always True

Analyzing the differences in navigating career paths between generations

This is a strange time in history where what worked for people a few decades ago no longer applies to the younger generations. The tried and true method used to be to get a college education. However, in the US the combination of rising higher education costs and stagnant wages has made college a less viable option. This was worsened by the pandemic causing colleges to switch to an unexpected online education experience.

Technology, and therefore life, has changed so much in the last 30 years. Years ago, children were told that they couldn’t make a living playing video games, now a gamer is a very real and profitable career thanks to platforms like YouTube and Twitch. It’s easier than ever to make money now, even as a teen. The internet is now the great social and economic equalizer that college used to be.

Currently, in society, there’s a dichotomy of people, those who think that higher education is a waste of time and money, and those who still need a degree to accomplish their career goals. Of those who still want an education, the question now becomes when should they go? Some people are waiting to go to college until they have enough money. Others are going while they’re young, but becoming content creators as they go, with the hopes of making it big enough to afford to pay for their education. This is a completely different experience from those who worked at McDonald’s to pay for their degree.

The popularity of content creation is great, but I wonder if the negative stigma of college will cause a future shortage in professional careers where a degree isn’t optional. I think fewer children will want to have careers that were traditionally seen as “successful” and some of those who would have attended will end up never going to college. Being a YouTuber or a vlogger is now what a majority of children and teens say they want to do when they become adults. While college isn’t for everyone, it’s also not for no one either. Some people still have to become doctors and engineers. I know that some people will still choose to do this, but I suspect that the number of people deciding to do these careers may diminish. Why go to school and get in a bunch of debt when you can have a great career online?

Education abroad is an option for US college hopefuls. But that’s not really an option I hear being discussed. And besides, it will be hard to justify going to college at all when you can be a millionaire by 21 without all of that extra expense, even if it’s cheaper in other countries. Especially since many college-educated individuals of all ages are now content creators to help pay their bills since traditional job salaries didn’t keep up with inflation.

One job is not enough to pay the costs for basic necessities for the average person in the US anymore. A person now must have several streams of income and wear several hats just to get by. The hope is that the multiple income streams will take off and be extremely profitable. Multiple streams of income provide the added financial security if one of your income streams depletes unexpectedly. Content creation is a popular side hustle for many people looking to make some extra money because much of content creation acts as passive income. The longer and more consistently you do it, the larger your earning potential.

It is often presumed that once successful on certain platforms, influencers and content creators quit their jobs and work for themselves. However, there are some successful YouTubers who’ve decided to keep their day jobs. While these creators are definitely in the minority, Why Some Successful YouTubers Are Keeping Their Day Jobs lists some reasons why they choose to keep working a 9 to 5:

1. They actually like their day job

2. YouTube and other platforms may not be sustainable long-term

3. Ad revenue fluctuates

4. Taxation concerns

5. YouTube doesn’t fill all of their life purpose needs

Financial self-preservation seems to be a common trait among many Youtubers. Even those that don’t keep their day job have found other ways to generate income. From selling merch and courses to stock trading and buying real estate, YouTubers don’t rely on one income source, something that was seen as unnecessary to older generations.

The 2008 financial recession and the Covid-19 pandemic recession has cemented in the minds of many millennials and gen-z to not rely only on a traditional job for financial security. We are increasingly turning to other means of supplemental wages, like content creation and the stock market, because we realize that our jobs see us as expendable when push comes to shove.

We are on the front lines of an unprecedented lifestyle becoming more common. Many of the solutions to the problems we are currently facing aren’t coming from our parents, because their lives and the problems they lived through were different from what we are facing at this moment. Instead, our answers and wisdom come from others online. And while we can still use past knowledge to help with some of our financial and career goals, the wisdom that our parents used to guide their lives cannot be applied to all of today’s problems. Leading many people to live lives that would have been seen as unstructured and unrealistic a few decades ago, but is now financially sustainable and admired by children growing up today.

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