For many of us Millennials the old American routine of graduating high school, maybe or maybe not going to college, and then getting a job at the local company is a tradition that we will never have an opportunity to participate in. With the American economy shifting from a manufacturing juggernaut to a more information and service based economy the old methods of going about acquiring skills needed for jobs that no longer exist are antiquated at best but obliterated in reality.
Sadly, it takes time for a society to change its norms and customs even in the face of a changing economy. Technological innovation, government's economic policies, and a perpetually unstable political climate has changed the world despite what your aging guidance counselors, Mom or Dad and Grandma or Grandpa tell you.
Factories and manufacturing hubs in the United States have gone to China and South America due to comparative advantage and logistics. It's not longer possible to walk off of the stage with your diploma your high school principal handed you right into a high paying job with a pension and health benefits. A whole new skill set is needed in this global economy to compete for those high paying jobs with benefits.
You can no longer find a job without a very unique set of skills that fits into our modern globally connected economy that runs through the internet. Scott Gerson of Focus Capital Markets explains, "Information technology is where the boom in these six figure positions are because of the globally connected nature of the internet and web based software systems that are running these companies operations."
Manufacturing cannot ever really die though or else we would not have tangible goods we need for survival or for our own vanity. Those positions are just mainly located in China and South America and will remain there for the foreseeable future. For the American Millennial they have a few options. One, they can work in service jobs where there is not great pay or stability. Two, work in emerging technologies where the pay is good. Or three, go the entrepreneurial route where the pay can be limitless.
So how does the entrepreneur create the relationships with manufacturing abroad to begin marketing their brilliant products to consumers? Well, learning a foreign language is a good start. Being able to speak Mandarin Chinese or being able to speak Spanish among other languages will be a huge ace in the hole in order to build relationships with foreign business partners.
Even if you aren't going the entrepreneurial route, being able to speak a foreign language will make you an asset to large companies who do business abroad. Imagine you are interviewing for a major American corporation who does business in China. You speak Mandarin Chinese while your competition interviewing for the same position do not. You have made yourself an asset.
There is much to complain about if you are a Millenial in how the economic tides have turned. The truth is that we are the first generation to have a worse off economic condition left to use from the generation prior ever in the history of the United States.
However, complaining will not change much. What will change your life for the better is finding creative ways to expand your skills and make your self an asset to companies operating on razor thin profit margins in a global economy. Learning a foreign language is just one way to approach the new information based globally connected economy.