Millennials: How are you navigating adulthood?

Jessica Levco

Recently, I was lucky enough to see that classic Chicago sunset from the top of a rooftop deck, right in front of Millennium Park. From a bird’s eye view, you can see how the Windy City is organized on a grid system. I realized that no matter which way you walk in Chicago, you always know where you’ll end up.

If only life as a millennial could be that linear. But as a twenty-something, you’ll find yourself re-routing, doing U-turns, or winding up on dead-end streets. Sometimes, it’s hard just getting started.

One day, you’ve got a job—the next, the Recession forces your employer to lay you off. Maybe you spend all day at work looking at grad school programs in Brazil. Perhaps your degree in Holistic Underwater Basket Weaving isn’t paying the bills. Whatever situation you find yourself in, it seems like the paths are always changing.

You constantly have to ask yourself: “What road do you want to go down?”

Up until college, you didn’t even think about this. The only question you had to ask was, “Should I go to a frat or a house party tonight?” Basically, you knew what was expected of you (and what you expected out of your weekends). Get good grades to go to college; Get good grades in college; and get a good job. You thought were following a grid or at least, a reasonable plan.

If you’re a recent college grad, you might now be realizing that you’ll have to throw your internal grid system away. Part of becoming an adult is figuring out how to create your own path.

Maybe a good strategy is not knowing (or caring) where you’re going. Sure, you might hit a few dead ends and have to turn-around, but isn’t that better than admitting hopeless confusion? If you wander from street to street, you make the decisions yourself. Nobody will tell you what road to go down. Even if they did, you probably wouldn’t listen.

So, that being said, here’s the best, non-directional and most clichéd advice my mom ever gave me: “You never know what’s around the corner.”

That’s true. Even when you’re living on a grid.

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Your first real job: 4 tips from a millennial

By Kristin Piombino

Congratulations to all the new college grads out there!

Toss your tasseled hat into the air; take last-minute pictures of all the campus landmarks; and stay out all night with your friends at your favorite bar because in a few weeks, you’ll be sitting behind a desk with a Real Person Job.

But don’t worry.

As a May 2010 grad, I can assure you that joining the workforce as a millennial can almost be as much fun as college.


As one of the newest millennials to join Ragan’s Millennial Mafia, I wanted to share what I learned during my first month on the job.

1. Seize opportunities, even if it’s not ‘work’ related

If someone invites you to lunch, go. If there’s a networking event on Friday night, go. If the person in the neighboring cubicle asks you to join the workout group after work on Wednesday, go.

Get to know the people you’re working with. Not only will you have friends and enjoy going to work every day, you will feel more comfortable around your co-workers and be more inclined to share your ideas.

The faster you can start contributing, the better.

2. Don’t turn your work in late

Keep track of your to-do list, meeting schedule and upcoming projects. Why? If you don’t get something done on time, other people’s projects could be affected. This is much worse than getting docked a letter grade.

Also, communicate openly with your boss. If you have a long-term project, let your boss know your progress and when he or she can expect it to be finished. This shows that you’re reliable and hard working.

3. School’s out! But the learning never stops

No matter what the job is, you won’t know all of the material you’re going to need on day one. Be prepared to learn. As a writer and editor, I’m currently learning basic HTML. Maybe you will have to learn a new technology or another language. Whatever it is, be ready to take a lot of notes, ask questions and master it.

4. Go beyond the first impression

Your first impression doesn’t end when you ace the interview and accept the job offer. The first few weeks on the job are essential for proving yourself. Show that you’re excited to be there and that you’re willing to work hard. Take initiative on extra projects, work quickly and be friendly with your co-workers. You’ll prove that you’re dependable and hard working, and quickly gain more responsibility and interesting assignments.