Money means less to millennials

Trinity Carey

As my third year in college is abruptly coming to an end, I’m wondering how many times I have already been asked “what’re you studying?” I’m a college student; this question is inevitable, I realize.

But what is slightly more maddening is the reaction received when telling people my degree field. One I am overly passionate about, but is not overly prosperous.

Recently, I was made aware by a family member that my career choice is not as important as a distant cousin who’s studying to be a pharmacist, because she’ll be the one with a six-digit salary. I just shrugged it off, because hey, I’m happy and that’s what counts right? I like journalism and writing. It’s kind of my thing. I believe there is power in words. That there is a need for transparency in authority. That writing is a way to spread ideas and find like-minded souls.

Yet I am constantly being made aware of the so-called “death of the print industry” and lack of money to be earned in the field, but truly, I couldn’t care less.

I believe a vast majority of NMU’s student body would agree with me. NMU is mostly comprised of those pursuing degrees in the liberal arts. We want not necessarily to create careers out of our passions, but find careers we are passionate about. That’s what I find so intriguing about our campus as well as our generation—we value work with personal meaning over work that pays well.

The older generations seem to care more about the average salary and the benefits of one’s career, instead of why someone may have chosen it. Those of previous generations were often unable to attend a university, let alone have the freedom to choose what job they would like to pursue.

Now millennials are fortunate enough to have the choice, and we are ridiculed for choosing what we are passionate and curious about, instead of picking the career that will fill the currently empty spaces in our wallets.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics 2015 report, the annual wage working in the newspaper industry is $40,860. Journalists are more than aware of this reality.

Actually there’s a pretty popular saying about being a journalist— “everybody hates you, the hours are shit, but hey at least the pay sucks.” Instead of a pang of regret, we laugh. It may be true, but it’s worth it. The money doesn’t change the importance and zeal for writing and creating a print product.

If your passion isn’t being a surgeon or psychologist or a mechanical engineer and instead you want to be an painter, a stage manager or a writer, it’s okay because the importance lies in the love of your work. So, while your grandparents may not understand the job you’re striving for keep in mind that the meaning of value in life changes over time and right now our generation finds value in passion, pursuit and love of a craft.

Instead of focusing on the salary behind your studies, remember not everyone’s opinion of your life affairs really matters and that mass amounts of money earned can’t fill all the voids in life. Ignore the mean and do something you feel is meaningful. I want to find value not just in my paycheck, but how I earn it.