With a scarce job market for graduates, rising house prices and tuition fees, and the emergence of the term coined “The Quarter-Life Crisis“, the young generation – or Generation Y – are now opting for overseas travel to broaden both their horizons and job prospects.
A recent article by The Atlantic states that “Millennials” (those aged between 16 & 34) are more interested in overseas travel with a large bulk of high school graduates taking a “gap-year” for the purpose of travel instead of going straight into the workforce or further education.
This is attributed to a number of reasons, but is most due to the state of the global economy and, at a national level, the shaky job market exasperated by the proposed Federal Budget.
Young people are aware of the uncertainties ahead of them and are opting for this “travel now instead of later on” mentality.
“It makes sense to travel now, instead of saving travel for a future that is in no way guaranteed” – How Millennials Are Changing Travel
I think in the case of Generation Y, this urgency for travel is largely stemmed from a post-graduation identity crisis. In our schooling years we have been conditioned to believe that if we get good grades we will then in turn get into a good university, obtain our degree, and get a fulfilling job in the career path of our choice.
However, because of the state of the economic climate and a global economy still bearing the aftermath of a colossal recession, this blueprint is no longer the norm and no longer obtainable for most.
We talked about the difficulties in finding jobs post-graduation in an earlier post, and such cases have forced young people to have to find their identities, self-worth, purpose, and meaning elsewhere than through conventional work.
Travel has been a solid antidote for this, not only is it probably the most guaranteed way of finding identity of self, but in this age it is looked highly upon by potential employers; particularly if study or work was performed on these trips.
Faced with a lack of job prospects and limited job opportunities in their area, young people are also using the time in trying to find work to travel, hoping this will help enhance their prospects down the road, equip them with real-life experience in dealing with people and communicating with different cultures, earn them some extra pocket money through study and working abroad programs, and help them discover what exactly they want from their life and re-evaluate what they want to do next.
While personally I have yet to know the amazing experience which is to travel abroad, I have had friends who have taken this adventurous leap fresh out of high school. Despite being lectured to from parents, teachers, mentors, and friends alike, these individuals came back from their travels probably better equipped and full of more experience and knowledge than those of us who spent 6 months with our noses in the books.
Making up the bulk of the world unemployment rate, Millennials or Generation Y, face a tough and uncertain future with the ‘travel bug’ being a plausible way of, if not making futures certain, at least providing an escape and time for self-reflection, cultivating personal identity, and perhaps even bettering future opportunities for work.
These skills prove invaluable once you do enter the workforce. Imagine the delegation prowess you’d have come to possess after spending three months haggling for food and goods in Vietnam?!
But not only this, it also allows you to present yourself as a whole, well-rounded, and worldly person. Someone who had the courage to take a risk in times of uncertainty and bettered themselves in the process.
So, as a Generation Y who is struggling to find meaningful work in this period of uncertainty, ‘Y not’ think about studying abroad or going on a working holiday? Volunteer at an overseas orphanage, teach English, or save the rainforest. Not only will you broaden your mind and experience new and exciting places, but it could even lead to your dream career.
For us Millennials, this is what we have been blessed with. Despite being the hardest hit of the generations, despite having the least scope for job prospects, the least likely to buy and own a home, and the least to have certainty in our futures – at least for now – we have been blessed with the wonderful gift of choice. The choice and opportunity to learn and to discover, to lose ourselves and in turn find ourselves, to experience what the world has to offer, and to become enriched as a person and an even more valuable member of our communities.
Have any of you taken a gap-year and travelled overseas? What skills or lessons did this experience teach you?