While the U.S. is celebrating one of the lowest unemployment rates in years, there's another, far less attractive employment statistic that isn't being talked about: underemployment. A recent study shows a whopping 38% of workers today are considered underemployed - with the majority of that group being young people. And, with the average job search for a recent grad hanging at six to nine months, the outlook for decent entry-level employment isn't all that rosy. These numbers could make any parent want to sit their child down and have a heart-to-heart about managing their professional expectations.
However, we're talking about Millennials here. A generation that's disrupting our workforce in many ways. They don't want a job, they want a purpose. Plus, they want to enjoy what they're doing - and get paid to do it. This can make getting your child to be realistic about what it takes to succeed professionally very, very challenging. However, that hasn't been a problem for Debbie Britt-Hay. Her daughter Taylor Hay is an aspiring actress...with a back-up plan.
Even Cancer Couldn't Stop This Millennial's Career Dream
Taylor Hay has wanted to be an actress since age four. Her mom, also in the business, introduced her to the world of casting calls and time on set, which quickly led to Taylor asking, "When is it my turn?" After booking the first commercial she ever auditioned for, it seemed like Taylor was on her way - until she was diagnosed with cancer at age nine. You'd think she'd put the dreams on hold, but it had the opposite effect. Taylor focused on getting better so she could return to acting. She was even granted a wish by the Macy's Believe campaign and Make-A-Wish™ that resulted in her very first voice-over role in the holiday special, "Yes, Virginia." In fact, she attributes the Make-A-Wish experience as a driving factor in her ability to stay hopeful and positive. After a successful recovery, Taylor says she became even more committed to the ideal, "live every day like it's your last." Given what she'd been through, I assumed her career aspirations would be sky-high. Surprisingly, when I interviewed her for this article and asked about her future, she said:
"My goal is to be a full-time actress, but I know I need a back-up plan. So, I'm going to school right now to be an entertainment lawyer."
How does a kid that survives cancer get so level-headed when it comes to her career?
Don't Say "NO!" Instead Say, "Just So You Know..."
Taylor says her mother never, ever told her she couldn't pursue a career in acting. However, her mom was always very clear on the sacrifices Taylor would have to make to get there. Moreover, Taylor's mom Debbie was also clear on the sacrifices she was making as a parent to support Taylor's dream. For example, if Taylor complained about having to be at a shoot at 3am, Debbie would remind her she chose to act and this was part of the gig. She'd also reminded Taylor that she was also there with her at 3am, supporting her decision and wanted to be home sleeping too. In Debbie's words,
"I always supported her choice to act, but I made her follow through on every commitment so she could determine if it's what she really wanted to do long-term. Only 3-10 percent of actors make a living off of it. My goals was to make Taylor understand she'd have to find a way to make money to support herself if she wanted to keep at it."
Giving Taylor the choice while holding her accountable helped her to see how much she was going to have to put forth to succeed. As a result, Taylor decided having a back-up plan was a good idea.
"I meet other kids my age at auditions today and ask them what they're studying in school. They tell me they aren't because they are fully committed to acting and don't want to be distracted. I think that's short-sighted. I believe you should never give up either. But, after surviving cancer, I've learned not every thing goes your way. So, I've chosen to find an additional career I'm passionate about in the even my dream to be acting full-time takes longer than expected."
To sum it up, it appears kids today don't need to be coached to be more realistic about their careers. Instead, they need to be coached on the realities of what it will take to get there. Turns out, encouraging AND holding them accountable for their dreams is the secret to success!