Covid career advice for young workers

Given COVID-19 and its accompanying economic issues, what do you think people in their early-mid 20s should be doing or thinking about right now in terms of saving, spending, career planning, etc.? What’s overlooked or wrong in the most obvious or common advice? (I.e., “sit tight”, “spend some money at local businesses”, “give to charity”, “learn a new skill”, etc.) Obviously, employment status matters and different skillsets, talents, etc. affect what one can and should do. Candidly, I’m not sure how best to disaggregate young workers in relation to my questions.

That is an email from Gregory Irving.  I am not sure my point here is “overlooked,” but if I had to offer one piece of advice it would be this:

“Right now it is harder than usual to build out your “soft network” of acquaintances, loose ties, and other people who could help you or become your future partners.  You just can’t go out and meet people in the old ways.  Yet in spite of this greater difficulty, virtually everyone’s allocation of time has shifted pretty dramatically.  So there ought to be entrepreneurial opportunities to build up soft networks in ways that would not have been possible pre-Covid.  Try to take advantage of those opportunities.”

What do you all say?


Soft networks? No, masked networks!

Confusing the short term with the long term remains one of the hallmarks of anyone desiring to play the pundit/public intellectual role.

Well, that is true. Sages gotta prognosticate.

My advice - read history and realize that the difference this time is incompetent leftist government. See how different the Hong Kong flu was treated in 1968-69. Don't buy the constant fear pumped out by the media and the Dems. Don't buy the new normal BS - things are and will be as they ever were. Follow the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) and you will have a leg up on your peers.

the government now is more leftist than 1968?

Nixon was elected President in 1968 and Humphrey was the Democrat candidate. Where do you think Humphrey would fit in today?

Not to mention the current governors of California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Proud progressives all.

At least going by this passage - Humphrey served three terms in the Senate from 1949 to 1964. He was the Senate Majority Whip from 1961 to 1964. During his tenure, he was the lead author of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, introduced the first initiative to create the Peace Corps, sponsored the clause of the McCarran Act that threatened concentration camps for "subversives", proposed making Communist Party membership a felony, and chaired the Select Committee on Disarmament. He unsuccessfully sought his party's presidential nomination in 1952 and 1960. After Lyndon B. Johnson acceded to the presidency, he chose Humphrey as his running mate, and the Democratic ticket was elected in the landslide 1964 election.

Maybe you are confusing proto-DNC template Humphrey with McCarthy or McGovern?

My advice would be to continue to live your life but do not visit or have physical contact with grandparents. Call them.

More to the point where would Nixon fit today? Not in the GOP. Dwight Eisenhower would not belong either. Even Reagan might have some people calling him a RINO.

Plenty of people need to find a job in the short term, though.

With a projected unemployment rate of 25%? Absolutely true that a lot of people will need to find a job, though not just the young.

Not convinced that the projected unemployment rate is a true measure of 'what's out there' - maybe Prime participation, UE over 26 weeks, part-time for economic reasons, and continued claims.
If you're young, we can assume: no mortgage/ significant ownership, minimal dependents, and minimum location fixations (marriage, other contracts). Most valuable experience: apprenticeship, internship, co-op. Methinks these are good options for employers questioning hire-backs of regs. Next most valuable: try different business sizes, locations, fringe connections to your education/ experience. You are cheap, versatile, and energetic - a re-hire upswing company's dream. Next: get a used car, bike, and a back-pack - versatility x 2.

Just like in 2008, young people are going to be disproportionately hurt by this. I'm in my early 30s and I can already see that this will set my career back yet again, though it still hasn't really taken off yet. I am not where I want to be right now, and this will undoubtedly put more barriers in the way of changing that.

That reminds me, first piece of advice would be to not feel sorry for yourself. Especially, as a young person, don't declare that a pandemic that kills primarily old people while leaving young people unscathed will disproportionately hurt young people. That's almost as bad as saying that your generation has never known prosperity when you have no memory of the 1970s.

I meant it purely from an economic standpoint, but I'm sure you know that and are just being condescending anyway.

It kills old people in nursing homes who are already retired.

The main problem right now is that there are too many 60+ people clinging to their careers and retarding the younger generations from filling those roles. This wasn't a problem when heart attacks, smoking took out a lot a lot of middle and upper management in their 50s/60s, and when mandatory retirement at 60 or 65 or whatever was more common.

Chris: crises occur every 5-10 years. This is your second time. You don't complain about 2001 dot com bust because you were in middle-school. What about 1997 Asian crisis, 1994 in Mexico and LatAm?. Best thing can happen is that you experience a lot more of crises since that means a long life.

Anon: if jaded 50s/60s people in management are competition to ambitious, energetic and well prepared younger people, just means the young are not that ambitious, energetic and well prepared. Nobody is going serve management positions on a plate. Fight for them or forget about them.

Just because people refer to those events as “crises” does not make them analogous to what has been experienced by people who graduated college/were newly in the workforce around the 2008 GFC and were supposed to be hitting an earnings and experience stride in the coming years. The events you mentioned are pretty weak beer comparably.

How do you advise out-competing someone for a thing when that person already has the thing? Do you suggest that a 50/60yo manager will be so impressed with the moxy of a young aspirant that said manager will simply resign? Or that an organization will fire a competent or even more than competent 50/60yo manager for the young talent, who by the way they probably aren’t looking for because their manager is competent of even more than competent (in fact that sounds like the grounds for a lawsuit, but I’m no lawyer)? “Try harder”. What a facile statement.

Yeah, and when the recovery finally arrives, people who graduated years ago find themselves competing for entry-level jobs with fresh graduates.

Who's the employer going to pick, especially in fields like STEM where the stuff you learned in university actually matters? Lots of stillborn careers and lifetime impact on earnings.

"It kills old people in nursing homes who are already retired."

No, New York State reports that about 30% of fatalities are for people ages 50-70. In South Korea, the number is about 20%.

This notion that large numbers of middle aged men used to drop like flies is mostly a myth. In 1960, life expectancy at age 30 for white men was 71 (they could expect to live an additional 41 years on average). Now, it is 78. What has changed is that there are simply more older people in the workplace and the population overall due to, well, the "baby boom" and subsequent decline in fertility.

" That's almost as bad as saying that your generation has never known prosperity when you have no memory of the 1970s."

It's always amazing to me how many people bemoan the current state of affairs without any personal knowledge of medium term history or apparently the ability to Google statistics.

The median person was significantly poorer in 1979 than today.

Millennials do have significantly less wealth than boomers did at the same age though. The massive run-up in asset values from 1980 to today meant huge increases in wealth for older generations that had assets in 1980 while younger generations need to pay much more for housing and retirement.

I totally agree that society as a whole and the median person are richer today than in 1979, but there is much more of a gap between younger and older people today such that the economic benefits of that growth have all gone to older generations. I’d still rather be a young person today than in 1979 because of more advanced technology and more liberal social values today, but economically the median young person is not better off today.

Very questionable that millennials are worse off, although I agree that Gen Z children entering the job market right now have a rough six months ahead of them.

If one doesn't consider death a cost. :-)

Agreed in the short term - there are some people who can be useful to your career who are now open to connection in interesting ways, whether it's an important person who is now physically present all the time because travel has been shut down or someone who has been deprived of key human interactions and is therefore somewhat more receptive to your friendly advances at this time. When the situation loosens a bit (as it has where I am), you will be surprised how many people will jump at the chance to go get drinks with just about anyone that isn't their spouse. That will not last, so use it while you can. All of this of course will vary depending on your area's COVID-19 situation.

Also, if you're already in a larger organization, a forced shift towards the digital can be a valuable opportunity for younger people to take on new responsibilities and therefore status. If you can find a way to use technology to solve even a mundane problem, then you have become that much more useful to the organization and that much more visible to the people who decide how it is run.

That may just be short term stuff but a) nobody wants a lost year in their 20s and b) if you DO see it as a unique window of opportunity then go for it now!

It's easier than ever to catch people at home!

I echo the other Tyler in that I think that the workplace and higher education are much more ready for remote work and learning then many business leaders thought possible before this happened. I see this as the major takeway from coronavirus. Schooling for younger children, not so much. Helping this process along will provide opportunities for the relatively young and ambitions.
My next takeaway is rather political. The red states have, for the most part, fared much better than the blue states. The South was already booming but don't overlook parts of the Midwest, which offer low cost living and are business friendly. I will predict a micro-boom in my own state, Indiana, which has handled this crisis much more competently than neighboring Illinois and Michigan.

Your 20s are the best time to have a lost year: you're young and have your whole life ahead to make up for it. And you're a lot less likely to be saddled with serious obligations at that age.

There is evidence, though, that people who graduate in recession years has consistently lower incomes throughout their working lives than people who didn't. More generally, I think the idea that there is a particular time in life when it is "best" to have a lost year comes down to grass-is-always-greener thinking:

20s - I will miss out on the opportunity to jump start my career/get an MBA from a top university/experience the young, single life in a big city/find a spouse who isn't afraid I will turn out to be a loser
30s and 40s - I have a mortgage to pay and need to save up for the kids' college fund
50s - If I get laid off now, no one will hire me and I need to top up my retirement fund. Plus, the kids want to go to a private college.
60s - This is my last chance for career advancement and achievement before retiring. Carpe diem. Plus, I still need to top up my retirement fund.

If you join the workforce in a "real" job in a recession you'll likely be paid lower and yes that can follow you. But if you can take a year or two off, maybe find some non-serious job, maybe volunteer some, and have some fun before starting a real career you should be able to skip that risk. is a good way to meet others and find opportunities (and one that most people don't know about). You can find a business partner anywhere in the world.

Learn how to build networks by implementing fiber to the home, so we don't end up in 5 years with Tyler telling us we are much better off being made poor to get crappy network service that allows crappy video conferencing equivalent to the video conferencing between the White House and the moon in 1969.

Frankly my ears and head hurt from the many video productions from home especially Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon,... most of the people connecting from home are in homes that cost multiple millions, so if the America wealthy elites can't get good internet, what hope do the working class whites, not to mention households that aren't white?

Career networking building most likely requires studying political economics, labor economics, not to mention business economics to figure out how to get support for much higher costs to society paying a few million workers in the fiber to the home value chain, manufacturing fiber optic components, installing fiber optic components, improving the existing network designs, and selling share of stock to worker 401Ks to pay good wages and benefits to the workers building networks that will provide service for 30 to 50 years. (The copper network I'm limited to by Verizon picking me as a customer to discard, and a potential customer that will not get good wireless cell service, is mostly about 50 years old.)

(I became a network tech, engineer, etc in the mid 70s, and started working on fiber optic networking in the mid 80s, so when "networking" suddenly meant getting a job, I was confused.)

Internet through fiber optics is soooo 20th century.

Have been working from home since March 17th through 4G modem. 5G modems are available since last year, but you don't need one of those for work. They're just for HD streaming and the service is 3 times more expensive per month. Maybe next year 5G service prices start to get interesting.

Or not.

mulp said "fiber to the home" which is overkill for consumer level needs. Fiber optics as the cables that link continents, regions and main hubs is whole different thing.

Going back to mulp's comment on why people on multi-million dollar homes look shitty on videocalls, there might be several reasons unrelated to internet speed. The first that comes to mind is the producer decided to make the video look bad on purpose to make it more relatable to the poor schmucks that watch Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, etc. Connecting with the audience is an important goal, a bit of bad lighting and low-fi sound can help a lot. Never forget TV is 100% make-believe.

Verizon's Fios is not available everywhere, but it uses fiber to the home.

Here's a puzzler: given that young people are much less vulnerable to COVID-19 then are older people, why does there not seem to be an obvious way for young people to capitalize on that lesser vulnerability? Sure, they might make better grocery delivery persons, but that hardly seems like a lucrative way to monetize their covid resistance. Partying on the beach also seems to provide only transient gains and actually reinforces stereotypes of immaturity. Perhaps some young doctors may be gaining field experience and status relative to more senior physicians, but I haven't heard anything like that?

In principle, young people ought to be able to travel for business sooner and more frequently than their seniors, which should in turn provide more of those network building opportunities that Tyler alludes to, but I don't actually anticipate that will happen either. It seems unlikely that company travel policies will differentiate between say 20-30 year olds vs. 50-60+.

In principle, young people are less vulnerable and should be able to take a bigger role in business. In practice, the young are quarantined much the same as the aged. Thus the seniors protect their economic status at the same time they protect their health status.

+1 Young people are also being scolded and shamed for not quarantining and protecting their elders

Perhaps we should start scolding the elderly for being selfish enough to destroy future generations for a few extra months in the nursing home.

Cutting social security and medicare some seems like a reasonable way to begin to pay off the debt accrued in an attempt to protect the beneficiaries of social security and medicare.

To be clear, in a just world, Chinese reparations would be paying for this.

The prospects of that don't seem great to me, but perhaps you could get something out of trade and immigration policy.

"To be clear, in a just world, Chinese reparations would be paying for this."

Yet Taiwan and Hong Kong managed to get away largely unscathed. Are you saying Americans should hold themselves to lower standards and admit relative helplessness when confronted with a situation like this?

Huh? I'm saying China is at fault for the whole thing and owes the rest of the world. Taiwan and Hong Kong are surely suffered economically as a result of the measures they and others have had to take. Does China owe Italy more than Taiwan? Yeah, sure.

So Italy's incompetence at containing COVID-19 means China owes them money?

The point is that China fucked up, but the fuck up would not have cost us as much if we had been as competent as Hong Kong and Taiwan in containing it. So China isn't at fault for our poor response. It's like if you are not wearing a seat belt is the other drive liable for your head injuries?

Italy got hurt more by China's negligence and deliberate hiding of information. Should Italy (and Europe more generally) moved to quickly implement a travel ban? Sure, yeah. Should you have swerved left instead of right when the drunk driver plowed into your minivan? Maybe so. But the fact that you swerved right and your kid had her seatbelt undone doesn't absolve the drunk driver.

80% of this is on China. I understand the Cuomo bashing and all that, but it's pretty far down the causal tree.

So now we're 8 year olds who can't be held responsible for not wearing a seat belt? And China's the adult who is.

"The point is that China fucked up, but the fuck up would not have cost us as much if we had been as competent as Hong Kong and Taiwan in containing it. "

That's not how liability works. If a car manufacturer has a defect that causes a dozen deaths they can't avoid paying by pointing out that 100K other drivers of that car were smart enough to avoid dying.

Granted, you liability law is directly attributable to a country but politically China can certainly be held accountable. The World just has to avoid turning this into a case similar to German WW1 reparations.

Americans did a lot of the Coronavirus spreading in Australia. I wonder if they're likely to cough up? But then New Zealand will probably want some money from us...

Fundamentally, we all got hurt by the nation who let the virus pass to humans because of either crazy wildlife market traditions or an accidental release from a known-to-be-sloppy research lab. They're not too clear on that. In part because they hid information about it for weeks or months and leaned on the (cooperative) WHO to whitewash the whole thing.

The original release was not a good thing at all, but the cover-up was inexcusable.

China is the drunk driver, Europe is the mom who served the wrong way, NYC is the kid in back playing with his seatbelt. Yeah, you shouldn't play with your seatbelt, but by the time we got there the situation was already pretty grim.

All kinds of animal agriculture is known to be a risk for causing viruses to cross species lines. Not just China's animal markets. It's one of the arguments in favor of vegetarianism.

Industrial animal husbandry as practiced in the US and Europe seems to be pretty safe. It's not like we didn't know those live animal markets were a big risk.

But honestly, I think I'd bet on the accidental release theory at this point. It more plausibly explains the rush to cover up the outbreak.

Just to make this clear ... you're saying America is the child and thus protecting us from contagious viruses is other nations' responsibility.

I'm saying China caused this through bad acts, and in the case of the cover-up, evil acts. The rest of the world were victims who tried their best to ameliorate the effects. Some did very badly: Italy, France, the UK, NYC; some did okay: Germany, the rest of the US; some were lucky or very good: small island nations.

If this was a just world, China would be paying them all.

That doesn't mean I think it was okay to leave air travel operating as long as it did, or to keep the subways going in NYC, or to keep restaurants open in Italy, or to force COVID-19 positive patients into unprepared nursing homes. Those things were bad and I've been critical of them consistently. But it's important to understand that the people who botched those decisions were metaphorically swerving out of the way of a drunk driver. Even today we have significant debate over the correct actions that should be taken now and should have been taken then.

But there's no debate that lying about it, suppressing news of the outbreak and arresting doctors who talked about it. That was an evil act by an evil regime, and now we're all paying for it. The evil regime should pay for it.

I'm _not_ saying America or any other nation shouldn't try to do better next time. Just like the mom who loses her kid to the drunk driver, maybe you want to buy a Suburban rather than an Odyssey.

We should trust China less, trade with them less, and accept fewer travelers from there. Our supply chains should be shorter and more robust. We should be quick to shut borders or ban travel when contagious disease is at issue. We should burn the CDC and FDA to the ground and rebuild the CDC only. We should generally tear down the regulatory infrastructure that makes us slow.

These are things directly related to contagion. We've learned other lessons that I won't comment on because they are only tangentially related.

Totally agreeing with everything said in this sub-thread.
Amazing to me the amount of political and social capital being expended to compel young people to sacrifice their futures to tack a couple extra years onto the boomers lives.

Start learning Mandarin now. By the time you get fluent in it, you'll be in a great position for the next bull market in global trade.

Don't ask me, I have no clue.

Apply for an Emergent Ventures grant.

Government, university, and news media jobs - all drawing secure paychecks and overwhelming in favor of continuing lockdowns since it doesn't affect them...yet.

Share links to TED videos on LinkedIn. That seems to create buzz.

If you do not have secure employment take a long hard look as to why your skill set is not in demand. Find new skills that you can switch between when different black swans show up every 8 to 12 years. Try to have more than one go to skill that is better than average pay. When combined harmoniously they can propel to better opportunities.

If you are young and in an industry where the original founders are old or dead, switch industries to ones that the founders are flourishing and new companies are being founded by young people.

Try to network with people that have a novel plan to solve the world's problems and join in.

Indeed. I talked to a plumber yesterday, he can't keep up. This is the third major crisis this century, there will be another one that will look very different, but people need to eat, live somewhere.

As has been brought up here before, workforce mobility. If I (A millennial) had been willing to move away from my Midsized college town, my career would have been much further along by now. As it is, I’m Mostly waiting around for a boomer to retire. I’ve recently dipped my toe back into the labor market and I quickly get offers from recruiters around the country but very little in my town.

Considering the progress of the pandemic in the U.S., maybe a boomer occupied slot will open up without them retiring first.

Since pandemics are likely to become a regular if unwelcome part of life, that would seem to be something that young and creative people would want to tackle. Just to make the contrast, Elon Musk has chosen the path of pandemic denier, even challenging Covid 19 to come get him as he re-opens Tesla's factory in violation of state and local orders. What I have observed is that, with a few important exceptions, tech has mostly steered clear of the pandemic, as tech's lasting contribution, social media, has prospered as the rest of the economy has faltered. He may not mean it, but Cowen's advice to pursue "entrepreneurial opportunities to build up soft networks" suggests more of the same for tech. It may well be good advice to follow the path of tech's success, but that success won't solve the big problems we will face in our future.

Our free-ish market system doesn't reward solving big problems. It pays a lot of money to young people to make yet another food delivery app. Important things like housing and healthcare absolutely require political reform which Boomers and future generations can't seem to find an agreement on anything except maybe lower inheritance taxes (since it benefits both in a way)

Food delivery is pretty important these days!

Megan McArdle's column today in the WP is headed with this: "We're all poorer now. Nothing the government does can fix that". McArdle then proceeds to list the actions government can do to fix that. I know, McArdle likely didn't write the heading, but do we need to be reminded that self-described libertarians such as McArdle don't like government - even when they do. My point is that some problems are so big that it takes collective action to solve them. If the U.S. were attacked by Russia, would libertarians argue that "nothing the government does can fix that". I don't think so. Yet, we've been attacked by the novel coronavirus, and scientists advise us that pandemics are our future. Will soft networks fix that?

She is a state capacity libertarian, obviously.

Play online games. Seriously. You'll build up a global network of acquaintances, and there's a considerable amount of non-game chat. Right now, for obvious reasons, there's a surge in pick-up games and multiplayer online communities. Monetize your entertainment!

Have the courage and imagination to ignore pressure to go to university and incur a lot of debt. There is already a shortage of skilled trades and this will worsen. It's fairly easy for a trades person to earn $100,000 or more versus half that or less for many university graduates.

A normal year for a skilled trades worker means a gross pay of a little over $80,000. Receiving this means enduring supervision by troglodytes, filthy conditions, bad lighting and more danger than traffic patrolmen and narcotics detectives. If skilled workers don't get a big raise their number will be made up of the least intelligent and motivated persons not currently incarcerated. US infrastructure, both public and private, will continue to deteriorate. Overpaid senior management will have no one capable of following their orders.

"What’s overlooked or wrong in the most obvious or common advice?"
Well, the first thing I'd say is to link/list to that said advice. ... Is "sit tight" really common advice? It's profoundly stupid - for many people. It depends on where, who, and what you are. Obviously. Mid-March to mid-May isn't a particularly significant period of time from which medium or long term decisions ought to be derived. The fear of infection will linger, many will benefit. Do something. Ask. Challenge yourself. ...that's all I got.

I lost my job in 2008, and I took a much worse job (about a 2/3 pay cut). But I learned new skills that I never would have learned absent losing my job. A couple years later, my old company hired me back in a slightly different role, and the skills I gained in 2008-2010 have been crucial to my success over the last 10 years. My takeaways:
* Be willing to retool and proactive in your efforts to do so
* If you didn't save for a rainy day this time, make sure you do in the future
* This too shall pass
* I got lucky - understand that luck is real, but don't let either good or bad luck go to your head.

"* Be willing to retool and proactive in your efforts to do so
* I got lucky - understand that luck is real, but don't let either good or bad luck go to your head."

Excellent. If you aren't prepared to take advantage of the Good luck, then you have self selected for Bad luck.

I wouldn't worry about lost face-to-face networking. We have a plethora of online options.

LinkedIn maintenance? Touching bases with old coworkers or school chums? Taking a MOOC? Contributing to some github project related to your skill set? Answering questions in any points-building way.

Speaking of, who is 1muflon1?

(I've been keeping myself busy learning CAD/CAM skills. Kind of low ultimate productivity in my retirement, but it passes the lockdown.)

If you believe this is the end of education as we know it, you can participate in the destruction:

Maybe a little more hands-on:

+ 1 for github

If you’re a nerd, you better have proof you’ve been actively working on open source projects until you’re hired

If you’re a suit you shouldn’t be unemployed. If you are, use your school network and get back in the game

Line up an English teaching job in East/SE Asia for as soon as borders open back up. Here in China schools and parents are desperate for teachers.

In advance or instead, teach English (or something) online.

I know a couple who did that as a midlife career break. It was a great experience for them.

Yes, based on my peers, this seems to be one of the best career paths. I know several people who were unexceptional but did this and are now envied by the straight-A gunners who now generally have stable but pretty boring lives at home. Most people are lacking in the courage and adventurousness to move to another country, so those who have it are at a huge advantage in life.

I did this in 2008 and am only beginning to recover from it professionally.

In the future your resume for your first job will be your "How To.. " series on your video channel demonstrating something of your level of expertise in an area. When you're in High School start interviewing people working in the field you wish to someday work in.

take advantage of your greatest assets: a long economic time horizon, a lack of financial responsibilities (mortgage, family, etc), an ability to live comfortably with less, a low risk for catastrophic covid complications, and cheap travel prices. Many successful people had periods of wandering in their youth that served no role apparent role in their professional development, but were deeply meaningful in their personal development. Many more successful people who steadily climbed the ladder of achievement without these times, and now lament this missed opportunity. Value new experience, meaning, and formation during this time, knowing you will soon need to pivot to a different set of priorities

This depends a lot on the person's circumstances. If you're a young worker in an office job and everyone you work with is newly working from home, you probably have an advantage over your older colleagues in being more familiar with working and communicating using online tools and you are probably still used to managing your own time and working on your own schedule from being in college. Look for opportunities to take any kind of leadership role in showing your company how to most effectively operate in the new situation.

I reckon the best thing a young worker can do at this point is to campaign and vote for Trump.

Otherwise, they'll face the same 8 years of "secular stagnation", "new normal" and so on that their millennial peers did between 2008 and 2016. Perhaps they get lucky and it's only 4.

The three traumatic crises that people under 40 have lived through (9/11-Iraq War, 2008 financial crisis, and this pandemic) have all happened under Republican presidents. You know the saying—once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action? I reckon it’s a fair bet that the vast majority of young workers will not be supporting Trump or any other Republican president for a while.

I don't know - you can trace 2008 directly back to Democrat policy "give anyone and everyone a mortgage, paying doesnt matter!"

You can trace COVID to Democrats claiming the virus was a racist hoax even 2 months after Trump had taken action.

Your first "point" confuses Democrats with "all of Congress" and "Greenspan". There were many horrible policy decisions in the Bush years (oh, yea, a Republican administration), and many lie at the feet of Greenspan and Fed failures (purposefully implemented by Greenspan) to properly regulate and exam.

Another large source of fault was plain old securities fraud in the CMO markets, aided and abetted by the rating agencies, law firms, and accounting firms, but never enforced against any of them by the Obama administration. So, if you want fault on a political party, you have a lot to go around for everyone.

Your second point is stupid.

How about "Don't rely on soft networks. Build skills and credentials that will provide employers with quantifiable evidence of your competence. Build a paper trail."

Yes to this. Quantifiable evidence and a good narrative linking your choices together is important. And rigorously do your homework on whomever you are trying to impress. I'm always surprised by the number of younger applicants to my (London corporate law) firm who don't know basic details about the business and haven't prepared answers to the most common interview questions ('Tell me about yourself.' / 'Why this firm?' / 'Why this industry?' etc). Prepare for any opportunities like they were your final exams. Learn your responses like a script (obviously be flexible in the delivery!)

And don't be scared to take a rogue side step on the way to what you want. I couldn't get a job as a lawyer straight from university, so I joined the UK equivalent of Teach for America (TeachFirst). It was a two year detour I hadn't intended but the skills I learned teaching (presentation, flying by the seat of your pants, being unflappable), have come in very useful as a lawyer. It made me a more interesting candidate, one with real life experience to draw on when selling my skills.

The opportunity cost of playing the long game has gone down dramatically. Entrepreneurial and ambitious young people ought to view this episode as a blessing in disguise. Out of college, many young people will mistake the urgent for the important and make poor choices in a rush to establish an identity. This ends up being regrettable and costly. The pandemic may have freed them unhelpful expectations and given them *back* some of the most productive years of their lives.

You can “accredit yourself” much more quickly on your own than most entry level jobs. Work on projects you are excited to own, and put together an online portfolio. Building a reputation/soft network is largely done over the internet (especially Twitter) anyway.

Or, practice “periodization.” Invest as much as you can in new skills/independent projects now, so that as/when it becomes easier to meet new people in real life, you’ll have more to share and be better prepared to cultivate new ties.

I think the best evergreen advice on this topic is in Charles Hugh Smith’s “Get a Job, Build a Real Career, and Defy a Bewildering Economy.” Also Peter Thiel’s 2016 Hamilton College commencement address. And Paul Graham’s “How to Do What You Love.”

"Talent stack", ala Scott Adams, work on developing a toolkit of skills and abilities that you can mix and match to build yourself a unique capability.

Problem solving - learning enough about how things work to solve problems that your teachers/bosses/etc. don't know how to solve. This is a skill that will serve you well in any job but paper-pushing bureaucrat. People like those who can solve problems and there is never an end to the problems to be solved.

And problem solving often means taking initiative and being a self-starter in finding problems to solve. Some of the most value-added are small problems that might have been accepted but when solved break the log-jam. And you can solve them because you've developed your talent stack by learning about things, always.

Ed Leamer in a recent Econtalk:

"But now, with a computer doing all those mundane, repetitive intellectual tasks, if you're expecting to do well in the job market, you have to bring, you have to have real education. Real education means to solve problems that the faculty who teach don't really know how to solve.

"And that takes talent as well as education."

Trump is deregulating. I guess we will see what happens.

Hopefully, encouraging businesses and making it attractive to come back will give your generations their ‘80s.

I guess from a certain POV the 2008 crash could be your 70s malaise.

Reading this blog has made me wonder, tho, if the 2008 recovery would have been faster or more nimble if Obama and the Democrats didn’t decide to grab a chunk of the economy thru Obamacare.

I, personally, was not impressed with the “new normal.”

What Higher Ed is facing has been a long time coming. That is part of your Rust Belt.

You will survive and be fine because we adapt. It’s part of growing up. My generation grew up during hot and cold wars.

When I was in my 30s and the Greatest Generation was beginning to pass, it was said the greatest transfer of wealth this country has ever seen was coming. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Don’t forget, some of elderly dying aren’t boomers. They were born during The Depression. They are end boomer parents.

You want us to retire? That market needs to stabilize and head toward Dow 36000. Then you means-test.

[ctrl+f "spreadsheets": 0/0]


Best thing you can do is to schedule in your calendar to do your first job-hop for 3 years from the date on which you start your first job. If you get a position in a down economy and don't job hop after a few years, you will be one of those who end up in the statistics of having been permanently 'damaged' aka as a frog too comfortable to get out of the heating water

And when you job hop - do not literally tell your employer your current salary. Say "I'm looking to start at X".

My first job was 2007, then a new one in 2011 and my current one since 2016. Each new job initally offered me more than my current salary, and I countered with even higher (around ~$5K) and I got it both times. My salary has gone up 200% since my first paycheck out of college (13 years ago).

I have seen many people make great careers in boring industries. Those with initiative often rise to the top. Don't think it's all tech.

If the big corporate world is for you (and I say COVID will drive bigness)--Upper management greatly appreciate someone who volunteers to handle and then successfully handles things. Learn how to scope problems, and how to solve them with the resources and structure around you. What drives any career beyond knowledge is initiative and project management, i.e. planning and people skills.

Many people are hesitant to take a problem or a prospect on---they want to do their known things and not risk their current position. Project management. Many great ideas, and really smart people, flounder because they cannot implement through lack of planning and knowing 'how' to get the 'what' done. And 'how' often means getting involved people to act and who to get involved.

My best interactions have been people with true technical knowledge who also have the project manager mindset.

A previous employer was flooded with freshly-minted PMP-certified braindead drones who only knew how to schedule weekly status meetings and tick through a list of action items that never got done...

"What do you all say?"

I am young-ish (mid-30's) and as an introvert was always of the mindset that "oh you can build relationships via email and skype meetings and etc." but I have been proven incredibly wrong. People will never stop being human. If I've sat in someone's office with them face-to-face and spent 2 hours helping them solve a problem...two years later that guy will call me first when he's having another problem rather than just trying to switch to a competitor. Other guys I've only corresponded with virtually, I'll meet them for the 6th time and they are like "Oh hello, and what is your role with [company]?"

“Soft networking” is totally applicable, for two reasons: (1) the technology of video chats forces you to be more mindful of multi-regional scheduling, presentation skills, and intentional signaling, which are all extremely important in 21st century rapid business environment. (2) With everyone worldwide in the same quarantine, it’s possible to cross national borders and find talent, ideas with a few clicks. In the “normal” times before COVID, that would have required weeks or months of visa applications to sit in the same room.

I’ve linked one of several meetups I’m involved with on this form. So far I’ve had the opportunity to meet with brilliant people from Australia, Indonesia, Nepal, Ireland, India, Germany, England, Bolivia, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and more — I’m pretty certain that many of these people wouldn’t be looking for connections online if it weren’t for the inability to go to the local cafe (I wouldn’t).

Yes, all these tools and technologies were around before COVID. But COVID has been the “forcing function” for the broader population to use them effectively and with intentionality.

Comments for this post are closed