I graduated. What now?

I graduated. What now?

Millennials vs. Gen X

So… what now?

Zameen Datta, Intern, Malaysiakini

2 December 2016

Congratulations, you’ve finally gotten your degree.

Finishing your final year involves a great deal of stress, with exams and assignments and internships that all suddenly need to be completed and handed in yesterday. It requires many late nights pouring over textbooks and frantic study sessions in the library. At the end of it all, being handed your degree can feel like a sweet, sweet victory.

But once you’ve taken the pictures and tossed the hats in the air, things suddenly become complicated. The real world is very different from the structured, organized life you got used to in university, and it can be confusing or disheartening to many recent graduates taking their first steps alone.

So what do you do once the party’s over and the realities of adult life begin hammering on your door?

For a recent graduate, there are three basic paths available:

1. Continue studying

The most straightforward option: more university!

Many graduates choose to continue studying in order to receive a Masters or even PhD qualification. While this can increase your work value and allow you to learn more about a subject you love, it is important to consider whether or not this is the right path for you.

Going for a Masters means sacrificing short term profits in the hopes of a long term pay off. While having more qualifications can be good, the path of research and academia may not be suited for everyone. In addition to the highly competitive nature of the field, getting a higher qualification can actually lower your job prospects by making you too specialized in a certain subject.

2. Get a job

The “sensible” choice: start working, earn a salary and pay off your debts as soon as possible.

A lot of people decide to go straight into the working world once they graduate. This gives them the chance to immediately start earning money as well as learn new skills and make valuable contacts that will serve them well in the future.

However, while getting a job was once considered the ‘safe and stable’ option, the economic problems of the past few years has led to many companies downsizing and made it harder for new graduates to find work. While the economy is recovering in many places, the idea of staying in one job until you retire is considered outdated and inflexible. Be prepared to switch jobs or even careers several times throughout your lifetime.

3. Do something else

The third and final option represents a lot of things, including: building a business, taking a gap year, becoming a housewife, volunteering to work for an NGO, and many, many more.

This option is available to you because right now you are at what is possibly the most free period of your life. You have all the freedoms and responsibilities of an adult without needing to worry about having to take care of a house or children. In short, this is possibly the best time for you to take a risk because you can afford to make a big gamble.

Whichever path you want to take, make sure you think carefully before deciding. These next few years will possibly be the most important in your lifetime. You should plan your next steps ahead of time in order to ensure that the path you pick is the right one for you.


Things we know about technology (that our parents don’t)


Love and Romance in the new millennium


What do young people do with our free time?

What do young people do with our free time?

What do young people do with our free time?

Millennials vs. Gen X

What do young people do with our free time?

Zameen Datta, Intern, Malaysiakini

25 November 2016

1. We spend far too much time online

Whether it’s chatting with friends on Facebook, watching funny cat videos on Youtube or spending hours playing LoL, we’re always doing something on the internet. Having access to free, instant entertainment is simply too tempting to pass.

2. We eat

Because even if you may not be able to afford a new house or car, pizza will always be there for you.

3. We work out

We understand that staying fit is important, so it’s important to go out and exercise regularly. Being healthy is not just about losing weight – it’s about trying to have a longer, happier life.

4. We travel around the world in 80 days

Well, maybe not all around the world, but every year more and more young people are going on trips abroad and drawing the envy of their friends by filling up their facebook pages with hundreds of pictures.

5. We give something back

Volunteering to spend an hour or two at a charity may not seem like much, but it can make a world of difference for someone less fortunate. Helping out at a local charity doesn’t just feel good either – it gives you something useful to add to your CV.

When discussing how millennials spend their free time, it’s important to remember that there are several factors that strongly affect how they act compared to the previous generations.

Many millennials have to contend with expenses that their parents did not have to worry about. The cost of education has risen sharply over the last few decade – in 2015, around 70% of American university students had debts to pay off once they graduated, forcing many of them to take low-wage jobs in order to start paying off their loans immediately. Even in the developed world, young adults are earning about 20% less than the national average. For the first time in decades, pensioners in wealthy countries have more money to spend than their younger counterparts.

Millennials have very limited spending ability compared to their parents and grandparents.

Many of them cannot afford large expenses such as cars or houses, meaning that any hobbies or leisure activities they wish to do regularly must cost as little as possible.

Enter the internet.

For many young people, the internet is a godsend. Free, unlimited entertainment, right at their fingertips? It’s no wonder why so many young adults seem to be addicted.

In fact, a recent study suggested that millennials in 2014 spent an average of 27 hours online each week. Whether it’s playing games, chatting with friends, or simply watching cat videos on Youtube, no matter who you are or what you’re interested in, the internet is simply so huge that you’re bound to find something to do online.

Another effect of the millennial generation’s lowered spending ability is the rising popularity of food fads. Even if they don’t have a lot of money, many people can afford to splurge on a good meal every now and again. Whether it’s gold-glazed donuts or monster milkshakes, people love to eat foods that look and taste different from the norm.

However, while everyone likes tasty food, there are a growing number of people who want their food to be, above all, healthy. Organic and health food diets are becoming increasingly popular – at least 21% of young adults in the Klang Valley say they have a vegetarian diet of some kind.

In fact, health and fitness in general is more important to the young generation than ever before. With all the information available to them, millennials are generally keenly aware of how easily sickness and disease can ruin their lives and as such tend to be more interested in trying to have a healthy lifestyle. Nowadays, being healthy is not just about losing weight or looking good – it’s about having a longer, happier life than you would otherwise have.

Millennials are more likely to have an active and health-conscious lifestyle. A report by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association found that in 2013 around 27% of people aged 21-30 belonged to a fitness club of some kind. Even those who haven’t joined a fitness club are likely to do some form of exercise.

As of January 2015, there were 50,000 health and fitness apps available in the Apple App Store.

The millennial generation’s desire to be fit also ties in with another popular leisure activity: travel.

Over the last few years, more and more young people have taken to travelling overseas – a survey by Topdeck Travel found that 94% of people who had travelled overseas at least once in the past year were aged 18-30; at least 30% of them travelled solo rather than with family or friends. However, before you assume that they are all wasting time and money on expensive holidays, it might be useful to understand why millennials travel so much.

For millennials, travel isn’t just about fancy hotels or lounging on the beach – it’s an opportunity to learn more about the world and experience things that they might otherwise never have the chance to see. 86% of millennial travellers said that their primary motivation was to “experience new cultures”, while 69% said that “eating local foods” was at the top of their lists. In contrast, things like partying (44%) and shopping (28%) are usually considered to be much less important.

In other words, young people don’t want to be locked into the normal tourist experience – they are willing to step outside their comfort zone and immerse themselves into new cultures and experiences. 78% of millennials say that they want to learn something new while travelling. For them, travelling overseas isn’t about leisurely holiday trips. Instead, they see it as a chance to meet new people and learn skills that might be valuable to them in the future while relaxing and unwinding.

Another way that millennials try to expand their experiences is through charity work. Despite the stereotype of millennials being lazy and self-centered, the truth is that many of them are far more generous than you would expect.

In general, young people tend to be more civic minded compared to the previous generations and are more passionate about changing the world.

A study found that millennials are very enthusiastic about helping others within their community and even abroad. 70% of college students believe that “it is essential or very important to help people in need” – the highest level since 1970. It’s not just talk, either; 83% of millennials have donated to a charity in the past, and nonprofit organizations received 1.3 million extra volunteers between 2007 and 2008.

For millennials, charity work is not just a way to feel good about themselves. They genuinely want to make a difference. While some are content to simply donate money regularly, many others prefer a more hands on approach – they’d rather go to a village to help build a house themselves than pay someone else to do it for them. This is partly because of finances (most millennials don’t have much money to spare), but also because young people want to know exactly how their donations make a difference.

Many of them also take the opportunity to spiff up their resume. Charity work gives young people a chance to meet new people and get involved in exciting projects, giving them new skills and experiences that they can add to their CVs. While many volunteers chose to donate their time because they genuinely wanted to make a difference, this gives millennials – many of whom may have trouble finding a good job – an extra reason to volunteer.

To sum up, the millennial approach to leisure activities may seem strange to older people because they have been shaped by the unique circumstances that millennials grew up in. Their low economic prospects and lack of financial freedom has caused many young people to avoid overly expensive activities. And when they do decide to spend a lot, millennials want to feel that they have gotten something more than the standard holiday experience.

Despite – or perhaps because – of their circumstances, millennials are at their core brightly optimistic. Even if things are difficult for them in the present, they work and strive to better themselves, always reaching for the future as best they can.


Things we know about technology (that our parents don’t)


Love and Romance in the new millennium


So… what now?

Love and Romance in the new millennium

Love and Romance in the new millennium

Millennials vs. Gen X

Love and Romance in the new millennium

Zameen Datta, Intern, Malaysiakini

17 November 2016

If you’re looking for love, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

1. Online dating websites may not be as useful as you think

Let’s try an experiment. Look at the people in the photo above. You have ten seconds to decide which of them is the most attractive to you.


Now let’s try it again. Look at the picture below and tell me which of these people is the most attractive to you. Remember, you only have ten seconds!

Harder, isn’t it?

With so many people to look through, you probably just glanced at each face and picked the first decent looking person who caught your eye.

That’s basically what online dating is like – there are just so many people available that trying to go through every single profile would be impossible. Instead, you skim through the list, ignoring anyone who’s profile picture doesn’t make them look like a front page supermodel.

2. That said, long distance relationships can be fun

Gone are the days when you’d have to wait impatiently for the postman to arrive. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to have a long distance relationship. With the widespread availability of programs like Skype, it doesn’t matter how far away they live – if you have internet access, you can talk to them all night long.

3. Friends before lovers

Many good relationships come from people who were friends before they got romantically involved. While the idea that opposites attract is often bandied about, in truth, knowing that both you have things in common makes the relationship that much smoother.

4. Living in Sin

A lot of us understand that marriage is a pretty big step. Living with someone for a few months makes it easier to see whether he or she is really someone you’d be happy spending the rest of your life with. A chance to see all each other’s quirky habits and get used to them before tying the knot should not be underestimated.

5. Just because your friends are getting married…

Doesn’t mean you have to.

Despite what some may think, we know very well that marriage is a big thing. That’s why we don’t want to rush into it. There are plenty of people who decide to put it off until they get older, or even decide not to get married at all.

No matter who they are or where they come from, everyone enjoys being in a loving relationship and experiencing a whirlwind romance. While we all look for love, people from the millennial and gen X generations go about it in very different ways.

There are a lot of stereotypes about millennial romance. Older generations may see their children as hedonistic, rushing into casual hookups and frequent acts of debauchery. One of the reasons for this belief is the fact that relatively millennials seem interested in starting a long term romantic relationship. According to the Pew Research Center, in the year 1960 59% of adults aged 18-29 were already married. In 2011, only 20% of people in the same age group were married.

In addition, many millennials tend to be more liberal than the older generations – according to research, 62% of millennials see no problem with sex before marriage while 56% think that there’s nothing wrong with same sex relationships.

This has led to the stereotype of millennials being the ‘hookup’ generation, always interested in inconsequential flings and one night stands. In reality, however, millennials actually tend to have less sexual partners compared to their parents and grandparents when they were at the same age. In 2015, psychological professor Jean Twenge conducted a study revealing that millennials have an average of about eight sexual partners during adulthood. In comparison, Baby Boomers had an average of eleven partners while Gen X had ten.

So why are millennials – the generation that invented Tinder and ‘Netflix and chill’ – taking so long to get together?

In short, society has changed. In the 1950s, women were expected to get married and have children right after high school. Nowadays, things are very different. In Malaysia alone, the amount of women who work has risen from 46.8% in 2010 to 54.1% in 2015. This means that more and more women are more willing to put aside marriage and children in order to pursue their careers. For millennials, the stereotypical high school sweethearts marrying after graduation is the exception rather than the norm.

Another reason is the rise of urbanisation and development of new technologies. In the past, most people would meet their romantic partners through family connections or community events. However, as time went on, more and more people are turning to online connections in order to find their partners. Dating services like Tinder have become very popular, with an average of over 50 million users per month in 2014 alone.

The rise of online dating has had several major effects on the dating scene.

For one thing, long distance relationships are becoming more popular than ever. In the US alone, over 14 million couples describe themselves as being in a long distance relationship. While some of these relationships do fail, they are actually in the minority, with more than 60% of long distance relationships surviving past the four-month mark.

Another effect of the internet dating phenomenon is that young people no longer have to settle for the first person who seems ‘good enough’. Instead, they can choose to look through hundreds or even thousands of online profile to find one that they like. This has its advantages – with all the information at your fingertips, anyone can find someone eventually. The problem, however, comes from the fact that there are too many options to choose from.

Take Tinder, for example. In 2014 alone, there were approximately 10 million people who used their accounts on a daily basis. That’s a lot of profiles to go through if you want to find your perfect Prince (or Princess) Charming. And this isn’t helped by the fact that a lot of the information that people put in their accounts may a little… exaggerated.

As a result, many people have begun looking for a relationship a little closer to home. According to a survey done in 2015, 38.6% of 18-34 year olds said that they’d met their significant other through a mutual friend. They were followed by 22.3% who said that they’d met in a “social setting” while only 9.4% of couples said that they’d met through a dating website.

Additionally, having a sudden, whirlwind romance may be rarer than you’d expect. 40% of 18-34 year olds said that they were “platonic friends” before becoming romantic. In comparison, 35% of relationships started from a series of formal dates while only 24% got together from hooking up.

What does this mean?

It seems millennials are far more picky about their partners; many of them don’t just want a one night stand, they want a soul mate that they can spend the rest of their lives with. Starting out as friends means that the relationship tends to be stronger – the two of you probably have similar interests, you know that you can get along, and you’re both aware of any annoying habits ahead of time.

Compared to the previous generation, millennials are not as worried about getting married and having children because they already know that neither of these things is a guarantee of love and happiness. Many of them are willing to take their time instead of rushing into something that they might regret.

While it is true that millennials are waiting longer and longer to get married, the bonds between millennial couples is stronger and longer lasting than ever before. In the last 50 years, the number of unmarried couples living together has skyrocketed up by 900% while the divorce rate has been dropping ever since the 1970s. In essence, by living together for years before tying the knot, millennials reduce the risk of their relationship falling apart in the future.

Despite the many stereotypes that seem to surround millennials, the truth is somewhat more complex. Like all stereotypes, the idea of millennials being the shallow “hook up” generation may have some minor basis in reality, but in the end we are all simply trying to find love, one way or another.


Things we know about technology (that our parents don’t)


What do young people do with our free time?


So… what now?

Things we know about technology (that our parents don’t)

Things we know about technology (that our parents don’t)

Millennials vs. Gen X

Things we know about technology (that our parents don’t)

Zameen Datta, Intern, Malaysiakini

14 November 2016

1. There is no life without the internet!

For many of us, life without the internet is almost unthinkable. Whatever would we do without access to all our games and gadgets? 

The horror… the horror…

2. Distance is no barrier

It doesn’t matter how far away you are – as long as you have access to the internet, you can meet with your friends and loved ones from anywhere in the world.

Advances in technology have made the world smaller, allowing real time text, audio and even video communication across countries.

3. You can’t stay bored for long!

On the bus or train? Pull out your mobile and catch some pokemon. At home alone? Download your favourite shows via Netflix. On your lunch break? Catch up with your friends and loved ones with Whatsapp.

“Ooh, there’s a Pikachu nearby!”

4. Don’t know something? Google it.

The internet gives us a way to access the collective knowledge and experience of billions of humans across the world. It’s hard to justify memorizing all those textbooks when you can just use Google and get the correct answer in seconds.

The solution to so many problems (Screencap from BeatTheBush YouTube video.)

5. You don’t need a “proper” job to make rent

Nowadays, there’s plenty of money making opportunities for anyone creative enough to find them. Apps like Uber and Grabcar let you make money just by driving people around, pro gamers can earn thousands by competing in e-sports tournaments and Youtube celebrities like Pewdiepie can make millions just by uploading videos on Youtube.

Pewdiepie (real name: Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg) is known for his wildly popular Youtube videos, which mainly consists of recording himself playing video games. Despite this, he has been very successful, earning around $12 million in 2015 alone.

This saturation of technology has had a massive impact on how millennials live and work. Some among the older generations have expressed concern over their apparent addiction to the internet, while others are wary of the constant, ever rising prevalence of social media.

However, for millennials, such things are an indispensable and essential part of their everyday lives. The rise of social media, image boards and online forums has created a culture that seems fluid and ever changing. With the help of technology, new ideas and trends can spread with remarkable speed, leading to things such as memes and ‘viral’ news.

To some of the Gen X’es, millennials can seem lazy or narcissistic, more interested in taking selfies and watching cat videos then working.

In truth, millennials actually prefer working smarter rather than harder. It’s all about finding new ways to do their jobs better, and thanks to their familiarity with technology, millennials are used to finding the answers to their questions with just a few clicks. 

They also tend to multitask more than older workers, switching rapidly from one thing to the other in a way that may seem strange to someone who is used to sticking to one task and concentrating on it until it’s done.

In addition, their early exposure to a wide variety of people and cultures in turn has caused millennials to become more socially liberal. A lot of millennials have a “I do what I want, you do what you want” philosophy when it comes to other people’s lifestyles or beliefs.

Millennials are more likely to support issues such as LGBT rights and freedom of information.

Generally, millennials tend to be more open minded and aware of the importance of political correctness. While some do enjoy trolling and causing trouble, for the most part millennials at least try to be open-minded and polite to everyone. 

New found opportunities

Millennials also tend to be more urban and educated compared to their parents. In the US alone, about 40% of millennials are still studying while 19% have already gotten their degrees. (Source: The Millennial Legacy) Unfortunately, even with such high qualifications, many millennials find it difficult to get jobs. The Great Recession caused a lot of damage to the world’s economy in the late 2000’s, a fact which has impacted millennials in many ways.

The Great Recession destroyed jobs and careers around the world, causing companies to downsize even as economies began to tank. This has made it harder for millennials to find work in more traditional fields such as medicine or law. However, as the years go by, more and more millennials are turning to technology, finding ever more creative ways of making money.

Since it’s more difficult to find a job, many millennials simply create their own. The millennial generation’s creativity and tech savvy has allowed them to make use of technology in ways that most Gen X people would never have considered.

For example, Kickstarter and Patreon are crowd-funding platforms allowing artists, musicians, writers and game designers to receive funding from their fans so that they can concentrate on their art instead of being forced to work part time in order to pay their bills. New jobs such as ‘app designer’ and ‘mobile game developer’ have popped up in response to the growing popularity of smartphones, while online bloggers can draw in thousands or even millions of subscribers interested in what they’re writing – the number one blog, Huffington Post, has around 110, 000, 000 subscribers as of November 2016.   

To sum up, millennials have grown up in a world very different from the one their parents experienced in their own childhoods.

They live in a time filled with both unrelenting despair and undying hope, where culture and society seem to shift and change at an unprecedented pace, and though the shadow of the Great Recession still lingers, the millennials are set to overcome it and take their first steps as the latest generation to enter the workforce.


Love and Romance in the new millennium


What do young people do with our free time?


So… what now?