How do we make sense of our lives and choices when we are told we are living amidst decline? As one way of thinking about the consequences on self-making in the post-recession economy, I have embarked on a new study of young workers called Millennials Navigating Lean Times, which uses interviews and observations of students from the millennial generation as they transition from college and make sense of opportunity, failure, luck and choice in the post-recession economy.
By interviewing graduates between 2000 and 2015, I capture their surprise, frustration, and how they make sense of opportunity and failure as they encounter a dramatically different world than the one encountered by their parents. Since 2013, along with two undergraduate research teams, I have interviewed 30 recent graduates of liberal arts schools asking questions about turning points in their careers, decision points, achievements, failures, and what they have learned about themselves from their working lives. The terrain on which they attempt to build adult lives feels new, uncertain.