Preparing for the Passion Economy: Millennials Seek Meaning, Not Just Money

 By Richard Porras, AT&T and Jason Manion, Roadtrip Nation


The workplace as we know it is changing. The Millennial generation of Americans, currently ages 18 to 34, has now surpassed Generation X as the largest share of the nation’s workforce according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center. Unlike Baby Boomers, whose professions were often defined by their parents and economic circumstances, Millennials are a generation seeking to follow their passions and extract meaning and purpose from their work. As a result, aligning personal interests with careers has become critical for employers seeking to stay competitive in the “passion economy.”


On June 8th, 500 students at Valley High School in Santa Ana had the opportunity to do just that: find out how exploring personal interests can lead to a fulfilling career down the road. Facilitated by the creators of the PBS documentary series, Roadtrip Nation, and with support from AT&T, Valley High School students participated in an innovative new curriculum helping students to connect what they are naturally interested in – whether it is playing video games, reading mystery novels, or catching bugs in their backyard—to real world jobs and career pathways.


Roadtrip Nation believes authentic career exploration isn’t possible without exposure to the diverse and unique career opportunities that are not ordinarily discussed in a classroom setting. That’s why Roadtrip Nation’s curriculum and live events at high schools and colleges around the country are so critical. It’s more than an excuse to leave class. Live presentations ignite authentic excitement as students ponder the potential of their futures, and walk away understanding the connection between what they are learning in courses like English or Chemistry, and why it matters to excel now in order to prosper later.


By participating in the program, Valley High School students joined the ranks of 15,000 students across the country who have now experienced the Roadtrip Nation Career Exploration experience thanks to support from AT&T Aspire, AT&T’s signature education initiative focused on high school success and career readiness. But most importantly, they heard fresh advice: on your journey through high school and college to career, don’t just search for a job or a paycheck. Search for your joy. Ask questions. Be curious. The dots will connect.


This post is also featured on AT&T California’s blog here.


Richard Porras is Vice President of External Affairs for AT&T in Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties, and is a Santa Ana native. AT&T Aspire is AT&T’s signature education initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism, and mentoring.


Jason Manion is Outreach Director of Roadtrip Nation. A Long Beach local, Manion leads the organization’s student driven initiatives around the country. Roadtrip Nation creates self-discovery resources designed to help young people build fulfilling lives and careers around their interests. Roadtrip Nation’s headquarters are based in Costa Mesa.

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