Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz showed his complete lack of understanding for the economic climate plaguing gen-Yers with unemployment by giving world class advice to young people. His reasoning? That we should work for free to pad our resumés.
What Poloz fails to realize is that we are already working for free. I’ve been doing free work for the past four years. It started off as something to build my portfolio and make a name for myself when I was just a rookie. It’s since turned into this unfortunate broke reality.
As a part of this over-stressed, over-worked, and financially struggling generation, I’m tired of working for free. I’m tired of giving my time to baby boomer bosses who lived in an economy that was a lot was kinder to them. They could work simple minimum wage jobs and still sustain some kind of living.
Poloz is a part of a privileged class and a generation that does not know the employment struggle of the 2000s. He’s a product of a time where university degrees were accomplishments that landed you a job, whereas now they’re expensive pieces of paper representing debt and frustration. I see parents of friends who only have college degrees working high-paying executive jobs.
Meanwhile, I’ll still be struggling to find meaningful and decent paying work despite my extremely expensive university degree. The harsh reality for millennials is that we’ll have to collect degrees like Pokemon cards just to be taken seriously.
Poloz’s comments make me remember my first paid job. I worked at Indigo for two years for minimum wage as a cashier while in high school. The sad thing is, I worked with several university grads. All of them sported good degrees from high-ranking schools but here they were in their Indigo vests standing behind the cash desk. Some of them did work in their spare time actually pertaining to their degrees, but much of it was either poorly paid or not paid at all. This meant they had to keep their jobs at Indigo. I remember one of them returning to school to pursue an entirely different field because his first degree did nothing to help his financial situation.
I hoped that maybe when I graduated from university, things would be different. But they’re not. In fact, we’re so used to the idea that we’ll have to work for free while keeping tedious and mundane minimum wage jobs on the side that we bitterly joke about it frequently. We attempt to laugh off how broke we are even though it’s really not funny.
So Stephen Poloz, what is your advice to me?
I am in my fourth year of university and have worked for free for a long time now. I have a great resumé and an extensive portfolio but I am currently unemployed.
My plan for next week is to take my emergency penny jars to the bank and get them exchanged for cash.
That’s my reality.
Journalist, intersectional feminist, illustrator, and Lord of The Rings enthusiast hanging around Toronto.
Hanna graduated from the Ryerson School of Journalism in 2015.