Why Volunteer for a Year, When You Will Not Retire Until 73?

During my reading of the local Sunday paper this week, I came across two distinct articles penned directed at the millennial generation and it’s future.

Four ways millennials are still scarred from the recession (Bloomberg News)

Momentum builds for national service corps (News and Observer)

The articles were only separated by a page in my local paper, but without a doubt they should not be viewed in a vacuum.

First off I applaud the authors highlighting the work of the Franklin Project, in driving home a national narrative of public service engaging 1 million young millennials in a year of public service. Much like the AmeriCorps, the program would look for 18-24 year olds to volunteer through civic service in communities that need fresh energy.

However, let’s look at the current state of millennials engaged in public service. How many friends, or yourself, have completed AmeriCorps service maybe for 1 or more years, only to find getting work just as hard as before they served? The most popular discussion on LinkedIn for AmeriCorps Alums is folks looking to network for job leads (1300 comments in a few years). I also question the 4 in 5 voters that support this measure. It is probably the equivalent to generational NIMBY (not in my backyard).

Now let’s look at 2 scars for millennials from Bloomberg – 1) They will never make as much money  2) They’re drowning in student debt.

It may be an unpopular sentiment, but do not sign me up as a supporter of another service corps program without clear job training and pipelines for our generation or the one after ours. How can we rationalize promoting a year of low paying, if not no pay, public service to young people that will not retire until they are 73? That are burdened with $1.2 trillion of collective debt just from college loans? If every year of your earnings potential impacts you decades down the road, how can we be asking more from a generation we are already setting up to be financially worse off than their parents?

Let me know if I’m crazy in the comment section!


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