A year ago, I quit my comfortable job at the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C. and moved to San Francisco with nothing but two suitcases, my newfound optimism, and a lot of energy. Now I’m writing a book about my journey. The Quarter-Life Breakthrough is a handbook for 20- and 30-somethings trying to make a living doing what they love.
According to a recent Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of Americans are not engaged at work. In 2011, more than 25 percent of Americans between ages 25 and 34 were not working. As hard it is to find a job, it’s even more difficult to find work that provides meaning and fulfillment, and makes an impact in the lives of others.
Before I moved, I felt like something was wrong with me for wanting to leave a job at an organization I believed in, which was doing great work all over the world, providing me with a good salary, benefits, and job security. After I started writing about my career transition on my blog, I realized readers were also facing the same challenge of how to match their skills and interests with an organization or company aligned with their values and what they wanted to do to change in the world.
Critics love to hate on millennials—they call us the lazy generation, the entitled generation, the “me me me generation.” Based on the millennials I know and the ones I profile in my book, these stereotypes couldn’t be farther from the truth. Millennials want to work—and despite being shackled by debt—they are not motivated by money, but rather by making the world more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable.
The millennials I met on my journey over the past year took me to the StartingBloc Institute, the Dell Social Innovation Lab, and the mentoring program Bold Academy. They are teaching financial literacy and entrepreneurship to urban students, designing toys to inspire the next generation of female engineers, and building rotating solar panels for communities without access to affordable clean energy. Far from the “me me me generation,” ours is the Purpose Generation, a group who refuses to settle, because we know how great our impact is when we find work we care about.
The Quarter-Life Breakthrough is not just about the advice I received while finding work as a freelance writer and eventually as the academy director of Bold Academy, but it’s also about how to build a supportive community that believes in you, a community of people who will hold you accountable to your dreams.
Our generation cares deeply about aligning our work with who we are and what we believe in. We are willing to change careers multiple times, become entrepreneurs and then intrapreneurs (and then entrepreneurs again), take risks that frighten our parents and our bank accounts, and start new paths at the ages of 23, 27, and 30. But we can’t do it alone. We need each other, and that’s why I’m writing this book.
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