Being a politician may just be the perfect career for a millennial.
Let’s start by saying—in the spirit of full disclosure—I am a millennial. I remember turning in carefully handwritten book reports in grade school, being a member of the original Facebook (before everyone including your 13-year-old sister and mom could join) and I struggle with online shopping because I don’t have my items now.
As a professional communicator, I also recognize the slightly panicked look anyone gets when the term “millennial” is mentioned in conversation—which is why Tuesday’s provincial election was doubly interesting.
In addition to ending the 44-year PC dynasty, this election ushered in an arguably scarier vision: the rise of the millennial.
Before you cue the doomsday music and call in ‘the Expendables,’ this is not the first time this has happened. The original ‘orange crush’ happened in Quebec—in the 2011 Federal election—when Jack Layton’s NDPs took 59 of 75 seats in the province. Four of the newly elected MPs were McGill University students—one of whom infamously spent part of the campaign in Las Vegas—whispers ensued.
But what followed were fairly successful terms in Parliament: Charmaine Borg, despite a crowd-sourcing gaffe, is commended for her work on digital issues and human rights; Laurin Liu, the youngest female MP, was named the deputy critic for science and technology and has been a strong advocate for seniors’ issues from the start of her term; Ruth Ellen Brosseau occupies the role of deputy agriculture critic in the NDP’s shadow cabinet and is now vice-chair of the NDP caucus.
And when you think about it, it’s not so surprising. Being a politician hits on a lot of the sweet spots millennials want in a career:
- It’s what you make of it: You can act upon the issues, passions and concerns that really matter to you and your constituents. You can shape, direct and advance your career in different ways.
- It has purpose: Every day you have the opportunity to make positive change.
- You always know where you stand: Data and ‘anec-data’ lets you know what people are thinking. It’s not always instant gratification—especially if it’s bad news—but you’re never left wondering if you’ve done something right (or wrong).
- It’s hyper-connected: As a politician, your constituents are the reason why you work, so spending time chatting online or in person is vital to career success.
- It’s a multitasker’s dream: Meeting constituents, attending the legislature, getting in touch/conferring with advisers—every day is chock-a-block with new things to do, problems to tackle.
Does this guarantee success? Of course not. But perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to worry. After all, age is just a number.