The European Youth, of which I am a member, is clearly experiencing a transition period. They used to refer to us as the “lucky generation”, the one who got everything without fighting for it or simply those who did not have to work hard to obtain what we enjoyed and still, however, enjoy. We have the opportunity to study what we want, our lives are made easier thanks to the new technologies, especially referred to communication and transportation. At some point in the recent history something changed and we realized that, after all, we were not that lucky. I would not say it is all about the global financial crisis and its consequences for the economy. Some issues, such as contract work (in the meaning that it brings unstable conditions and no certainties), the “abuse” of interns, the underdevelopment of certain regions, are problems that have been there even before the official beginning of the crisis in September 2008. However, it is clear that the economic circumstances brought about by the so-called “great recession” have aggravated the condition of the European Youth, causing that feeling of uncertainty and fear that characterizes us young people.
If I am asked to make a list of what is problematic for me, as an individual, finishing studies and entering the labor market nowadays, I would mention as first the high level of youth unemployment. The current situation also requires mobility, that is being in the right place where my expertise/skills/knowledge is required. Another issue is the fact that entry level jobs pay very little and, what is more, the value of a student is not rewarded (whether I have the best grades or not, corporations will look at the CV and not at my transcript of academic record). In addition, raising the retirement age does not encourage the generational turnover and, in such a limited labor force demand, one should spend more time networking with the right people who might help you rather than developing other skills.
The institutions involved in solving such issues are, among others: Governments (local and national level), relatively to boosting the economy through public spending, undertaking labor law reforms that promote hiring young people; central banks, through the effects of “easing” monetary policy that make the coming out of the crisis easier and overturn the fate of high unemployment; Ministries of Education, in cooperation with the Private Sector, in order to promote hiring the most talented students.
However, a young person might choose to find the strength inside him/herself and try harder to solve these issues for his/her personal best, and not wait endlessly for institutions to solve everything. In this case it is necessary to activate the brain, try harder, wait for the right moment and occasion, even if it would represent a cost for the family. If the mobility is now a must, one should start looking for information about perspectives and job opportunities in other regions, countries or even continents. Important would be accepting the risk related to moving away from the motherland. Relatively to low salaries, one can try to negotiate (trying, at least, is still for free) or wait before earning more. If the value of a student is not “automatically” recognized, one should learn how to “promote” his/her own person , perhaps studying how to perform at job interviews or how to write excellent CV and cover-letters. After all, seeking success without the help of institutions, might represent big gains, such as: learning how to cope with tight budgets, learning how to look and get a job (in the future one will need to find other jobs anyway), learning not to take things for granted, learning how to have connections. Learning but also taking advantage of the opportunities that the turbulent time offers, such as the push to move abroad and enjoy a life experience.
Making a personal balance and comparing costs of waiting for institutions with the gains I get from having a problem related to turbulent times, I say that I prefer taking a step forward, consciously understanding these gains and taking advantage of them. There is already some level of cooperation between institutions that prepare students to the mobility issue. Programs such as the European Union’s Erasmus allow students to experience living and studying for a period abroad. It is a great chance to explore a new country, investigate its job opportunities, its quality of life. Secondly, if I see opportunities of self-development on one side, and endless blame on institutions on the other, I say that, especially during such economic situation, the second option is fool.
The personal path undertaken during the workshop that guided me to this conclusion had a specific turning point: writing down the words “my-self”. A deep analysis of the issues that I am facing was helpful, as well as confronting my ideas with others’ opinions. However, when I had to confront my-self with “my-self” written on the paper, something changed. It became clear that institutions are just a mean and if I fear the future under turbulent times, the best would be to roll up my sleeves and decide for my-self.
Social movements are not for me. Trying to have an influence, in this particular way, on the government or other institutions decisions would be, I believe, a big distraction from what the real point is: developing my-self and seeking the best. There is no time to waste.
Another word convinced me: “consciously”. I believe that a personal analysis of the problem, a “conscious” understanding of it and of my personal solutions, works even better than the good advices and motivation provided by parents or friends. Or, at least, such consciousness works as a strengthening of those exhortations.
I have already taken part of the risk of moving away from my family and my motherland. As soon as I realized that there were no perspectives for me there, I decided that moving abroad would be the first step. I enjoy the international cooperation between Universities that is facilitated by EU programs. As soon as I finish my studies I already know who my potential employers may be. If asked whether I am “consciously” undertaking actions and activities towards my goals I answer: yes. I already knew I was, but reminding my-self from time to time is helpful in fighting the fear and uncertainty of the present time. A deep analysis of the problem, if a problem is definable, helps delineate the issues and find a realistic solution.