5 ways millennials need math post-college


Caitlin Mooney

Andy Cohen said it best in his new book, Most Talkative: “my brain has a tendency to go blank when I see an Excel spreadsheet.”

I’ll never forget the horrified look on my math teacher’s face when I jumped up and down in his classroom after he told me I got a 66 on the Math B NYS Regents exam. To him, that was a terrible grade. But to me, I was done. I passed. I earned my advanced regents diploma. Check.

It’s not that I can’t do math. It’s just that I have no interest in it. Numbers don’t speak to me like words do. My senior year of high school I opted to forgo all free periods and lunch because my guidance counselor insisted I take pre calc, but I wasn’t willing to give up journalism, creative writing, contemporary lit, or advertising and design.

Needless to say, I am an excellent example of the stereotype that your brain is either wired for math and sciences, or language and arts. I only had to take one math class to fulfill my bachelor’s degree and upon graduation I thought I’d never have to solve math problems again.

If the foreshadowing in this post isn’t obvious enough, I’ll come out and say it now: as a communications professional, I have not escaped the grips of math.

In entry-level positions, especially at small agencies, you’re somewhat of a glorified intern in the sense that you’re expected to be a doer of all things, a jack of all trades. As a result, you end up learning the ins and outs of the agency and a sampling of everyone’s job (i.e. invaluable experience). While you may be done with the Pythagorean Theorem and graphing calculators, here are five ways math may creep into your life again:

1.  Grad school

If you decide to go to grad school, chances are you’ll have to take the GRE. It’s like taking the SAT all over again except you can’t use a calculator on the math section (at least you couldn’t in 2009). I actually had to reteach myself how to do long division.

2.  Accounting

It’s important to review client budgets and estimates to keep the agency on track for all projects and campaigns. I’ve also learned how to complete payables and general ledgers.

3.  Media buying

Remember that fun equation GRP = reach x frequency? Learn to love it. Also learn how to solve for the CPM, CPP, CPC, CTR, and analyze all of those numbers in an excel spreadsheet. (Are your eyes glazed over yet?)

4.  Living on a budget

If you’re in an entry level position in the communications field, chances are you’ll be living on a budget. To keep yourself organized, you may want to create a spreadsheet to help you solve for x in x = paycheck – (rent + groceries + student loans + car payment + health insurance + happy hour).

5.  Timesheets

OK, so this isn’t too tough, but it’s an adjustment to think about your day numerically and keep track of what you’re doing down to the .25 of an hour.

Do you fit into this stereotype too? What advice do you have for new grads?

Follow Caitlin Mooney on Twitter @caitlinmooney.

Millennial unemployment: Waiting it out, hiding, or going back to school?

Sandy Jackiewicz

Last summer, I found it virtually impossible to have a conversation without the topic of unemployment coming up. The New York Times ran the monster sized, “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” and The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson responded with “What’s Really the Matter With 20-Somethings.” At the time, most of my friends were underemployed, interning for free or watching re-runs of “Reba.” It was relevant.

It’s been almost a year and I’m still a 20-something: not married, no kids and no retirement plan in sight. Most of my friends are still underemployed, interning or in grad school. Lately, I’ve been watching the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics news releases. The latest report, released on June 3, had the unemployment rate at 9.1 percent overall and at 24.2 percent  for teenagers. Things could certainly be better. The most worrisome part about the current unemployment rate is the long-term impact on future earnings of recent graduates.

According to a study done at Yale by Lisa Kahn, graduates entering the job market during a recession earn less and that “the labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy are large, negative and persistent.” Trying to find employment and secure your future can definitely feel like gambling these days.

Kahn suggests finding a way to postpone entering the job market for a year or going back to school in order to position yourself more favorably. Many of my friends have gone back to school or are considering it in the near future.  As for myself, I took the GRE in February and I’ m looking into graduate programs, trying to figure out things as I go along.

Millennials, what’s your plan?