Getting a job is hard. Most of us know this.
Maybe you're one of the 3.4 million unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds in the US, or maybe you're scared of becoming one.
The numbers are powerful, but so are we. Let's fight youth employment personally, nationally and globally.
Watch our Google+ Hangout On Air discussion above for stories, facts and tools. And then follow these five steps to work toward landing a meaningful, sustainable job.
1. Figure out what you want to do
Ok, that may seem obvious and you may not need to "find yourself." But it can be surprisingly easy to skip this step and graduate into a career you don't want. Take some time to explore your interests and skills. Check out resources like Good.co, What Color is Your Parachute?, StrengthsFinder, and many many more. Put yourself in new environments-- tutor kids, organize a campaign for policy change, and build social capital. New conversations and experiences can spark ideas.
2. Find a mentor
Talk to your local United Way. Reach out to your college's career office. Ask your parents and your friends' parents if they know anyone in your chosen career path. Mentors can make a huge difference in helping you figure out the right path and can give you the tools to get there. On that note, be a mentor!
3. Develop your professional skills
Volunteer experience is "equivalent to formal work experience" in the eyes of 42 percent of hiring managers. Through volunteering you build project management, collaboration and leadership skills. Here are five ways college grads can use volunteer experience to get a job. Build your resume through joining or starting a Student United Way or signing up for an Alternative Spring Break trip in March.
4. Connect with someone who knows what to do
Call or email your local United Way. Tell them your story and find out if they offer financial literacy courses, job search advice, young leader networking opportunities or anything else that could help. Check out organizations like YouthBuild USA, Public Allies, Youth Service America, the US Department of Labor (who announced in December 2014 an investment in apprenticeship programs), AmeriCorps and many others. Take advantage of your school's career office. You're not alone. There are people and organizations out there ready to help.
5. Become part of the solution
Advocate for youth employment nationally and globally. Follow our Youth Employment Twitter list and join in discussions online. Organize a campus conversation around the issue. We need young people at the table. Talk to your local United Way about joining in conversations about youth employment with decision-makers from your city, companies and nonprofits.
Young people already make up a third of the labor force. Together, we can boost youth employment in our communities, states and around the world.
Find more resources and ideas in our Google+ Hangout, above, and in our Twitter chat, below.