Millennials today you say?
A month ago, I launched a new project called Our Millennials Today to open up the dialogue about post-graduation anxiety and student orientation.
I published an article reflecting on the lack of proper support and reflexion throughout our studying path. Today, I wanted to give you a glimpse of my personal story to understand how Our Millennials Today was born.
Brace yourself, this is about to get personal.
I’m a pure product of what I call «the classic French educational system». After my high school, I went to a Parisian literary prepa* and ended up in a prestigious business school** (which I tenderly refer to it as my “BS school”) to pursue a Masters degree. Ever since I can remember, I’ve heard the same tune about «elites forging tomorrow», and revolving around the same kind of people. I can clearly picture one of my teachers starting his sentences with this gimmick: “Since we’re all the same here we can say…”
In a way, I’ve always been on the “good student’s” rails, with little crossroads modifying my future from time to time. Actually, the
only difficulty I came across throughout my schooling was choosing options. Currently, being in a BS school ensures me a work life without too many bumps on the road.
I happen to specialize in entrepreneurship / design / innovation. I would be lying if I didn’t say it was chance at first that led me down this path thanks to start up WE, TEDx organisation & staffing, hackathons, project creations, etc. The fact that it mixes polyvalence and creativity thrilled me – and it still does. In 2017, I heard about thecamp, and took a chance to finally get away from my masters for a while. No need to say that my family and friends thought I was crazy. My telling them how “experience tops degree in the innovation field” didn’t really help (I should’ve seen the red-light coming).
After my residency, I realized I wasn’t ready to go back to my school. That’s how in April, I was sure to never set foot again on the campus. I left France for a while to reflect on the matter and the diverse paths that I could take. Fast-forward to September, when I suddenly signed up for some courses. WHAT THE F*CK? (to be clear, I do have a will of steel, just not when it comes down to food or to this particular case)
In 5 months, I sadly (re)discovered that no matter how hard I wanted to believe it, diploma still mattered in France. Don’t get me wrong, diploma with a sprinkle of relevant experiences matters even more, but experience without a diploma… is not really considered as such (yes, I definitely should have seen the red light coming).
When I told my family about my initial plan, they supported it. However, they soon started to gradually try and get me to come back on my decision, stating that due to the prestige of the diploma, I shouldn’t pass on it. Unfortunately, they weren’t the only ones. Summer was rough. I kept passing from an optimistic vision of my life without my diploma, to a Tantalus future at school.
I started browsing online, looking for resources, people who felt the same – or at least did at some point. All I found were a plethora of millennials success stories telling me to “fake it until I make it” – I mean, I’m ok with the plan, as long as I know what I’m faking and why.
Am I exaggerating? I mean school isn’t that bad right? Yes and no.
As I told you before, I’ve been on the same rails for some time. My family followed the same path «prepa – school – work» so when the opportunity presented itself, I didn’t think twice about it and signed up for my masters.
I discovered a universe far from my literary studies, where the people are great, but the spirit… not so much. Let me explain. We shower the world with punchlines and rehearsed discourses. We don’t learn by doing, we bullshit. We’re not benevolent, we compete. We don’t collaborate, we group up. When we team up, it’s to be the best ever in the end. We’re not even considered as students, but clients.
Sure, we discover our passions and act on them. BUT it’s often outside of school because the environment we evolve in doesn’t really help you to take a step back and reflect on your orientation (if you want stuff done, do it yourself). Do I project myself in that world? Not really. Why did I came back? Well…
All in all, summer was pretty rough, wondering wtf I was going to do with my life. It came to the point when my parents dodged reunion to avoid telling their friends about me and my will to engage in the innovation field / keep on going with my projects.
The magic happened when I started to talk about it around me. I discovered that for the most, people doubted their future, and don’t know where to head after school. For a majority, we’ve been rolling on the same tracks for some time now. One of my friends even employed the term “mourning” when we spoke about the after-studies.
The thing is, nobody actually dared speaking up about it. So, we stick to our rails in the fear of failing, lock ourselves up when we lag behind, and end up doing “bullshit jobs”. Sometimes we end up liking them for all they’re worth, and sometimes we don’t. It allows us to fuel our lifestyle, and so we go on. Forever.
I’m currently in my second to last year of college. Where am I at orientation-wise?
*prepa: stands for «preparatory class». It’s the equivalent to a Bachelor’s first two (or full three) years. Students are prepared for competitive exams to enter some of the best post-secondary schools in France (engineering, business, literature, etc.). The workload is considered as one of the highest in Europe
** the business school I entered recruits students on the previously mentioned competitive exams