Great Recession Grads & Career Transitions: When Your Grad Date is a Career Defining Moment

 
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I recently stumbled on a Refinery29 interview series about Great Recession Grads – aka me. I graduated from Chico State in December of 2007. I’ve always been fascinated by this microcosm generation— we set out to launch careers, live in big cities, and gain our financial independence during the worst recession since the great depression. Sounds like fun, huh? Fast-forward to a decade later, and I’ve started a company that is all about empowering career transitions (Career Cooperative) which has me thinking about our unique experiences and how a graduation date created a ‘generation’ of career transitions.

Most of my friends from my graduating college class had to work really hard to find employment, and stuck with jobs because we didn't feel we had a choice. We know all the tell-tale-signs of a coming layoff (when I’m tapped for a last-min meeting and told not to bring anything, I still break into a cold sweat). We also know how to dig in and make a lot out of a little— because we had to.

And this really amazing thing happened in our late-ish 20s, when we finally felt like we could breathe— we left those jobs and industries we settled for and stayed in for too long, and started pursuing completely different career paths, taking on challenges and facing risks that come along with a big career transition.

Now I may be partial, but I think there is something special to this gap generation who had to start our careers during such a traumatic economy. And this really amazing thing happened in our late-ish 20s, when we finally felt like we could breathe— we left those jobs and industries we settled for and stayed in for too long, and started pursuing completely different career paths, taking on challenges and facing risks that come along with a big career transition.

Maybe it was because we knew what it meant to work hard, put in long hours, and figured we might as well do something we genuinely cared about. Maybe we figured out, due to lack of resources (ahem $$) that the paycheck wasn't the end-all be-all, which actually provided some freedom in our pursuit of happiness. Maybe we just could finally find another job. Or maybe a mid-20s career pivot is just a natural part of growing up – another milestone to check off regardless of a disastrous economy. Maybe every generation has a defining moment that gives it its own unique characteristics, shared experiences, and career transition inspirations.

Maybe every generation has a defining moment that gives it its own unique characteristics, shared experiences, and career transition inspirations.

What I do know is that my fellow ‘Great Recession Grads’ from college and beyond are doing some pretty cool things in their soon-to-be mid 30s, all across the board. They’ve embraced the fluidity of careers knowing first-hand that circumstances can drastically change from one generation to another, and that the 'luck' of the draw of a graduation date can have a long-lasting impact on career transitions.

I’m curious about your career transition – what inspired you? Do you have a defining generational moment you can now look back on, and layer into the story of your career path?