The State Of The Millennial Entrepreneur

The life of a millennial entrepreneur can feel like the wildest of roller coaster rides; requisite with screaming, bravery mixed with extreme fear, shaking tracks, and downward loops and spirals. “Entrepreneur” sometimes seems like shorthand for hard struggles and disappointment with the faint glow of achievement hovering above the horizon like a mirage.

The truth is that business and entrepreneurship isn’t always sexy, even if it is usually wild and unruly. Founding a company is full of hard decisions that change your inner self as much as your career. Emotions run hot, and betrayal, broken hearts, and shattered dreams are sometimes the only products you produce.

There’s good news, though. Millennial entrepreneurs have amazing intuition and instincts. All that’s missing is experience and context to know how to apply them. Just pay attention to the process and remember you’ll never know everything, what matters is learning something from every experience. Breaking things down has the upside of letting you rebuild better and stronger. You can ask yourself what you really want. Creating those goals helps you hold yourself responsible for your own growth. And learning a lesson every time you stumble is a real success.

It’s easy for me to preach at the ripe old age of 25, but I’ve had to start over so often my resume looks more like I’m 40. When starting over I often fear that, in the “corporate world” I would be a round peg in a square hole. My time working for large corporations such as the World Bank proved useful to validate that belief. More recently, while interviewing at companies, I’ve been told by the HR managers how my resume looks like “one big red flag” and that “it looks as if you’ll jump ship in a couple months.” When hearing these responses, the hardest part was confronting my own expectations of success and what that would look like. Could I really achieve the success that I desired by taking a set position in a large company?

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Alexis Renault 3 years ago Member's comment

Leah Wald, have you read "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World" by Adam Grant? I think you should.

He describes how the world's most original thinkers expose themselves to diverse skills and environments. For example, scientists are 22 times more likely to win a Nobel Prize over their typical peers if they had a hobby in an unrelated field such as dance, acting or magic.

Having a diverse resume can be an asset, even if typical recruiters don't recognize it.

Amanda Baginski 3 years ago Member's comment

I found this really inspiring, as a young person with dreams to enter the corporate world this article has given me some perspective that it's not all its cracked up to be. I must say this article has really gotten me thinking about my future career path.

Mary Connors 3 years ago Member's comment

I looked at your (linked) blog. You know how we tell teenagers and college kids to be careful what they put on their FB pages? Well, that goes for blogs too - way too flirty/sexy and shallow if you want people to take you seriously in business. IMHO. The logo, the images...maybe good for position as of, by and for millennials, but it cuts you off from anybody older (who might be in a position to hire or invest).

Bruce Powers 3 years ago Member's comment

That may be true for people taking the traditional route, but some startup entrepreneurs seem to get away with a lot. Like Zuckerberg wearing the same hoodie day in an day out. Had I shown up to an interview like that, I'd be shown the door.

Susan Miller 3 years ago Member's comment

You are a real go-getter. Don't worry, I know you will go far.

Gus B. 3 years ago Member's comment

Keep dreaming, Leah Wald!

Ayelet Wolf 3 years ago Member's comment

I had a similar experience, I jumped around a lot trying to find the right fit for me. I learned a ton and felt I became very adaptable to numerous different roles in various industries. But recruiters often viewed this as a negative once I was older. They want the mid-level and senior roles filled by people who have a experience in that one role for years. And they feared it meant I would get bored and quit by the time my learning curve was over. It's been toughl

Kurt Benson 3 years ago Member's comment

Sorry you've had such a hard time with recruiters. I think your resume is very impressive. A traditional, more established firm might not value your varied experience, but a start-up would likely consider you a great fit.

Leah Wald 3 years ago Author's comment

Thanks Kurt! I appreciate the comment!

Bill Johnson 3 years ago Member's comment

An enjoyable read and I wish you much success. But I found this statement confusing: "Millennial entrepreneurs have amazing intuition and instincts." You may have strong intuition/instincts, but why would millennials be any better than any other generation at this?

Angry Old Lady 3 years ago Member's comment

Perhaps it's just me but I sometimes get the sense that millennials are either impatient or worse, have a sense of entitlement where they expect to skip right to the finish line. While I can certainly respect a young lady trying to make her place in this world, why not start at the bottom and work your way up like the rest of us had to do. If you do, you will be far more likely to succeed when the time is right.

Craig Newman 3 years ago Member's comment

Well said. There is a reason Leah Wald's resume looks like one big red flag!

Leah, you would be far more successful in life if you took a position for a year or two working closely with someone older who has learned the ropes and already achieved success.

Leah Wald 3 years ago Author's comment

Craig Newman- thanks for reading my article and thanks for the suggestion! Do you have anyone in mind?

Craig Newman 3 years ago Member's comment

I didn't have anyone specific in mind. But I'm sure there are many that would fit the bill. Before going on an interview, it's good to interview/research the person you'd be working for just as much as would to do you to see if you'd be a good fit. If only one could ask the interviewer for references! :)

Best of luck.

Danny Straus 3 years ago Member's comment

Some people were not meant to fit into the same mold as everyone else. Try and they'll break. Or at least will never reach their full potential. Look at successes like Mark Zuckerberg and $FB.

Wendell Brown 3 years ago Member's comment

Very true.

BreakingBad News 3 years ago Member's comment

Nice read.