Millennials seek help finding career, life paths
Rockland — Generation Y members — those ranging in age from 18 to 33 — face problems previous generations never dreamed of, including crushing student debt and a lack of direction for their careers and lives.
Seeing those problems reflected in their own families and neighborhoods, local business people have mobilized to offer millennials advice about a variety of topics by forming Midcoast Millennials Mentoring, or M3.
A group of college students and young workers gathered at University of Maine at Rockland April 25 for the inaugural meeting.
Mentor Richard Ogle recognized times have changed since he graduated from college without student loan debt. He noted each of the mentors has resources or knowledge to help address issues such as paying down debt, forming companies and establishing a good network. In addition, speakers can be secured to address specific issues, Ogle said.
"If you kickstart this thing, it'll roll," mentor Robert Shotwell said. "Put a sincere effort in. ... We want to help you, but you have to help too."
Along with concerns about mounting debt, millennials shared reasons for coming to the inaugural meeting, many of which were summed up by one young woman, who said, "I just feel really, really lost." A number of the millennials expressed feelings of being overwhelmed and over-extended as well as feeling like they were not in control.
"I have no idea what I want to do with my life," one stated.
One young man said he has already tried a number of physically-demanding jobs and is now seeking options that will take less of a toll on his body.
"I wanted to meet adults that have been successful," he said. "I want to be like you guys someday."
About half of the dozen millennials present expressed an interest in starting their own business but confessed to having no idea where to begin the process.
Attending the meeting as mentors were businessmen Ogle and Shotwell, director of URock Deborah Meehan, Camden attorney Edward Doudera, former Waterfront Restaurant owner and Camden Selectman Leonard Lookner, and Zoot Coffee owner Sondra Hamilton.
"We have a pretty deep mentoring bench here," Ogle said.
Other anticipated mentors include David Oakes, founder of CELL in Hope; Maureen Haining, a former NASA engineer and software designer; and David Lyman, founder of Maine Photographic Workshops, according to Ogle.
While mentors will be accessible to the millennials, it is the intention the group be peer-run, he said.
"It is very important to establish trust," Ogle said, adding personal information disclosed in meetings is not to leave the room.
He noted there are an estimated 97 million millennials in the United States and expressed hope a successful M3 group established in Maine could be expanded to other parts of the country as well. The first steps were taken to establish a Facebook page for the group as two volunteers stepped forward.
The next meeting — which is open to any millennial — will take place at URock May 8 at 5:30 p.m. Another meeting in several weeks in anticipated to specifically address debt. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.