Merriam-Webster defines a midlife crisis as a period of emotional turmoil in middle age, characterized by a strong desire to change. During this time, some individuals might get a tattoo or purchase a motorcycle while others consider skydiving or other adrenaline-inducing activities. For Millennials, though, the same type of anxiety comes in another form — a desire to change professions in the middle of their careers.
According to Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey of 2019, 49 percent of Millennials (ages 23-38) said that, given the choice, they would quit their current jobs within the next two years. That does much to reinforce the “job-hopping” stigma behind the largest generation in the workforce.
It appears that they are searching for a sense of purpose within their careers. To find it, they are willing to blow everything up and start from scratch — even if it means losing their six-figure salaries.
Alejandro Cavazos once led a team of more than 25 people at a multinational welding manufacturing company in Mexico. Eventually, he traded in his welding career to start as an intern at a tech hub in Barcelona. There, he earns less than half of minimum wage as a part-time employee. That is a far cry from the luxurious benefits that came with his former corporate position.
“I’d ask myself, what am I bringing to the world?” he said. “How am I leaving a mark? What else could I be doing instead?” For Millennials like him, all paths point to minternships.
Started from The Bottom, Now We Are Here
Mintern is a term applied to Millennials who trade in their successful career paths for a brand-new start as an intern in their thirties. “When you're in your 30s, you know what it means to get work done and grow in a company,” said Juan Irogoyen, a mintern at a newspaper called in El Pais in Madrid, Spain.
The cross-pollination of talent could benefit both sides of the tight labor market, both employee and employer. For the employer, they will gain vetted individuals who understand the meaning of hard work and success without the anxiety that comes with fresh-faced interns—all at little to no cost to their budgets. For the employee, a minternship provides a sense of fulfillment with a chance of bringing something more to society than just a positive effect on the GDP. For the moment, it appears to be a fair trade.
“I spent the majority of my life at the office and I started to re-evaluate,” says Namuli Katumba, another Millennial who traded in a glamorous executive position to become an intern at a PR agency in London. “I was becoming a cog of a bigger machine and what was I getting out of it, besides money?”
Speak Loud, Live Louder
“Millennials want to work for organizations that prioritize purpose as well as profit. It's as simple as that,” said Deloitte CEO Punit Renjen.
According to research published in the Journal of Applied Management, 70 percent of surveyed respondents echoed sentiments of purpose. Millennials search for roles that have a positive impact on society, showing their favorableness for businesses that give back to society.
Attracting Millennials, currently the largest generation in the workforce, is buried inside positive employer branding and social image. Although money-making is the goal for some, a lot of Millennials would rank that second or third on the list of things they look for from an employer. For employers, connecting with honest, charitable organizations could be the expressway to lure talented Millennials into your company. And in a tight labor market, every competitive advantage is needed.