Economics is something that has always held a special place in my heart. I know that probably sounds like a weird thing to say, but as I could tell absolute strangers that my Dad was pursuing a Ph.D. in Forestry Economics before I even understood what those words meant I suppose it’s no surprise.
It is also no surprise that I would follow through with some of my own ideas on economics and – as a millennial – what we can all do to prepare for the “new economy.” I think it’s fair to say that my ideas come from living with a professional economist, working in higher education, and being a member of the latest generation that everyone loves to hate.
As someone who works in higher education, you may think that the driving force behind what I think we need to make ends meet in uncharted territory is more formal education. In this, you are not completely correct. While formal education certainly has a place, and I’m grateful for the role it’s played in my own life, it is not what I think is necessary.
Before we go any further, I think that having a working definition of “the new economy” would be really helpful. When I talk about the new economy, I mean the economic system we live in that has a decreased need for person-power to get certain jobs done and an increased need for human beings to access goods and services for a longer period of time. This new economy creates something of an imbalance between the “haves” and “have-nots” The new economy is as thrilling as it is terrifying as we consider that the way we used to earn access to the goods and services we needed was through working for money a lot.
To prepare myself for a rapidly changing economic landscape, here are a few of the things I’m doing to prepare.
- Defining what the millennials have coined “the side hustle” means to me. As a parent with young children, hustling doesn’t look like it does for my non-parent peers.
- Shedding the notion that earning a degree is the only way to develop critical thinking skills. When I began my B.A. in Gender Studies I was told by nearly everyone that you could get a job with any bachelor’s degree because it demonstrated to employers that you had exceptional critical thinking skills. When I graduated in 2012 that was not true anymore.
- Approaching, or at least attempting to approach, each moment of my life with an intersectional lens. If we really want to get anywhere, it is important to remember that not everyone has the same life experience as I do.
- Working hard to recognize that gender norms are changing. The days where families could get by on one income are, for the most part, gone. The definitions of what makes a good dad/mom, husband/wife, man/woman are changing. While it may not feel like it now, I think that we are beginning to value people who are calm, rational, and kind. I think this is an especially important recognition for men – “real men” are not emotionally closed off jerks who don’t cultivate relationships and hurt people.
- And last, but not least , I am preparing for this new economy by pursuing an advanced degree. With a Master of Arts in Public and Nonprofit Administration, I am learning the rules of the game so that I am better equipped to change the game moving forward.
What are some ways you are tapping into your own potential and confidence to make your way in this new way of being?