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LearnVest, American Express Take On Millenials’ Malaise

Sept. 19, 2011
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Our generation – the millenials, Gen Y, the boomerang generation – faces a rocky professional future. Yes, dear predecessors, you did have to walk to school in the snow uphill both ways, but we’re graduating into the highest poverty rates in over a decade, unemployment rates that hover around 9% for the general population, and the reality that only 55% of recent college graduates are working in jobs that actually require a degree. Those of us who entered college in 2008 were relieved, thinking the job market would improve by the time we graduated. Not so much. Courtesy of an American Express survey:

  • More than half of recent grads have $15,000+ in student loan debt
  • About one in three grads live with their parents
  • 68% are either not working, or not working in a job in their field

But if you’re a recent grad, or a soon-to-be grad, you don’t need to hear the statistics. You know it’s a terrible job market. But it’s certainly possible that the unrelenting bad news created some misconceptions among our generation.

LearnVest and AmEx provide tools to get and manage money

According to the American Express survey, twenty-somethings tend to overvalue experience and devalue personality in the hiring process, potentially discouraging them from applying to jobs or, when they interview, highlighting their work experience to the exclusion of their character. But sometimes that character can be too much: more than half of hiring professionals say that recent grads are lacking professionalism and emotional maturity.

In another key finding, recent grads underestimated their expected salary by almost $10,000. Since a graduate’s first salary has an outsize impact on her lifetime earnings, this lowballed estimate can have long-term ramifications.

Enter AmEx and LearnVest, a website that makes money management and financial literacy tools accessible and (dare we say it) entertaining. The two teamed up to offer a pair of “bootcamps,” which deliver a daily email with a short lesson and tools to reinforce that lesson. These boot camps, free of charge, last 10 days each and cover two key weak spots for twenty-somethings: the workplace and the wallet.

Daily doses of financial and career advice

Career: The first module, launched today, covers areas that newly minted working adults have little experience with: work-life balance, professionalism, networking, and negotiating a salary (you undervalue yourself by $10k!).

Taking Control: This module aims to address financial illiteracy among millenials, which has only been exacerbated as twenty-somethings are compelled to rely on their parents for financial support. The program covers everything from the technical (credit score and net worth) to the big picture (goal-setting, with follow-ups).

AmEx also hopes to engage young adults to get their feedback on this and other initiatives. They’ve partnered with CrowdTap, a social platform that lets consumers earn rewards for sharing their opinions, to encourage twenty-somethings to share their views on and concerns about personal finance. AmEx hopes that this input will inform future ventures.

A large portion of the difficulties that millenials face can be distilled to two issues: jobs and money, or the lack thereof. By providing twenty-somethings with the tools they need to earn and manage an income, LearnVest and AmEx hope to make the post-college world a little less bleak.