Big Break

Today’s Los Angeles Times has a story about a new Pew Research Center study that shows that a record 57 million Americans lived in multigenerational households in 2012. That’s way up from the 28 million in 1980.

Why is that? It’s the economy, stupid. It’s getting harder and harder for people to make it on their own.

Years ago, multigenerational households were actually the norm. Extended families used to have to live together just to survive, but economic prosperity after World War II created more opportunities for everyone – no matter who you were – to realize the American Dream. That post war economic prosperity is what we became accustomed to in America. Now, really for the first time since the Depression, economic hardship is starting becoming the norm again for many of us.

Everyone knows someone who is looking for work these days. I know a bunch of people, at every stage of their careers, who need jobs. (FYI – I’m looking for professional opportunities for myself right now, too.)

It’s especially tough for young people who are trying to get their start in the world. According to Pew 23.6% of those 25-34 are living with their parents. That’s up from 11% in 1980.

I was just chatting with a young friend of mine the other day. He is a recent college graduate who lives with his parents. He was venting his frustration with the job market and the interviewing process, and he said, “I just need a break.”

The truth is, everyone needs a break sometimes. We all usually need a bunch of breaks in order to realize our dreams. Most of the time it’s personal connections that open the doors that deliver our big breaks in life.

We all know that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that makes the difference in most job hunting situations. I don’t know what the statistics are, but I know from experience that most jobs are not publicly advertised as open positions. In fact, many jobs don’t even exist until the employer comes meets the candidate, right?

I was thinking about this and wondering – what kind of brilliance is out there in the world that we will never know about because they are struggling and are never able to make the connections to catch a break?

That’s why it’s important, in these tough economic times, to help those who need it. It may be making an introduction, or even just actually reading an unsolicited resume so that you are aware of them, in case you hear of something that might be a good fit for them.

MSNBC Host Thomas Roberts with NBC Page and fellow McDaniel College alumnus Masha Paul (via Facebook)

Earlier this week, MSNBC host Thomas Roberts posted a photo on Facebook of himself with Masha Paul, a recent graduate of McDaniel College, where Thomas also went to school. Ms. Paul is an NBC Page this summer, thanks to her alumni connection.

I’m glad Thomas posted that photo as a reminder that we all should help others to get their breaks and “pay it forward” when we can.

That’s especially true for all of us who weren’t born with powerful family connections. We nobodies from nowhere have to help each other out!

So do it. Help someone who’s looking for a job. You never you know, you might be the reason they are able to realize their dreams. How cool is that?