Life After High School: The Workforce

Are you in high school wondering what your next move should be after graduation? Maybe you’re currently applying for university or trying to snag your dream internship? Perhaps you’ve been out of school for a little while but now you’re trying to decide whether to go back? If any of that sounds like you, keep reading.

Today we’re talking to Sydney, a North Dakota native and proud member of Gen Z navigating Covid, the education system, and joining the workforce. Keep reading to get Gary’s take on her journey and his advice for anyone in a similar position. 

The Workforce

Syndey Puppo is a little bit of everything. She’s a part time makeup artist, part time skincare specialist, full time charmer. The 21 year old, Fargo native broke down how certain policies have impacted her education and what makes her generation different from the rest. 

What was your relationship to formal education?

“It was shitty. It was bullshit. They say no child left behind and all that really means is, ‘you didn’t learn anything but we’re still gonna let you pass’. That’s the vibe.” 

“I didn’t learn anything. That may be a personal issue, because I was never there but, I always had a really good relationship with my teachers anyway. Still, I feel our relationship or my presence in class,  was more for entertainment purposes. I don’t know if they expected me to go to college. I made friends with other kids just to get my homework done.” 

When I graduated, everyone told me I had to go to school, get a degree–but I didn’t like school. I went to shut everyone up.  They kicked me out of my cosmetology course two weeks before I graduated. 

What are your plans, post-Covid?

“In September I’ll get my health and nutrition certification from [Cornell].”  I plan to help people with their health and lifestyle. I don’t really care about the name of the school or the certification–but I know other people do. 

“It always looks good to have a certificate or something that says, I know this thing.” 

However, I don’t think it’s necessary. I worked in the makeup industry without having a cosmetology certificate. I learned makeup artistry because both of my parents are makeup artists. 

I’m going into wellness because makeup and health goes hand in hand. If you want to be pretty on the outside, you have to be pretty on the inside, you know? I like it and I know a lot about it. A lot of people study something they know nothing about and they hate it. 

Why do you think people pay for school, post high school?

If something is expensive you want it more–[school administrations]  want you to believe you need it, but you’re paying for bragging rights. School is bragging rights and validation from your loved ones. I know we need education, but there are a lot of people with degrees they don’t use. Unless you know for sure you want to study what you’re paying for, it’s a waste of time. You can learn for free by using the internet.

How did you pay for your first time around in cosmetology school? 

My counselor filled out my loan. I had no idea what was happening. I had my mom co-sign, a terrible idea. Thank god they froze the student loan repayments. 

Has Covid changed the way you think about school?

The one good thing about Covid is that it gives everyone the chance to learn a new skill. People can study something for a little bit before committing a lot of time and money. 

How is Gen Z different from previous generations?

“Me, personally, and a lot of people in my generation, know we have to have multiple sources of income. Our parents or our grandparents, they would have one career and stick with it, it’s different for us. 

Our generation is hyper vigilant because we’re the generation of flexing. We make a lot of money but we show it on instagram, it’s a constant pull. We’re always aware of who’s making money and comparing ourselves. A lot of people are becoming more open to sex work because we refuse to struggle. We just keep going because we’re hustlers. 

People say we’re lazy and entitled. We are, but we also fight for what we want. We’re greedy, kinda. It’ll keep us alive during the pandemic.

Gary’s Take:

I know it’s hard during the pandemic, especially if you’re in an industry that doesn’t allow you to work from home. If you find yourself in that situation and you don’t want to give up on the industry of your dreams, don’t give up. Use LinkedIn or Instagram or whatever platform you’re most comfortable with–and network. Comment thoughtfully, add value to someone’s comment section and someone will notice. That’s just how it is. 

“I think social commentating is an incredible way to build momentum toward opportunity. What I mean by that is, if you want to be a makeup artist and you have skills, and you leave 45 meaningful comments on 45 Youtube videos, Instagram or TikTok accounts ( and I mean meaningful, not like “pretty” or “rad”) I think that is a great miss. 

If you are not a great content creator, but you want to be known for your craft, the number one thing I don’t talk about is (nor does anybody else) is the commentating content creator. Which is, instead of spending 3 hours to create that piece of content, spend 3 hours going into 50 pieces of creative art around that subject matter and being an incredible contributor to that community. 

We’re having a moment here and everybody is starting to realize it. If you love basketball and you go to all 70 top basketball Youtube, Facebook, and Tiktok accounts and you spend 3 hours a day leaving fire (3 or 4 sentences of real thoughtful content) well, aren’t you a great writer. Aren’t you doing the same thing that people at the Washington Post, CNN, and the New York Times do? I think it’s a monster idea that people should seriously consider, and I don’t see a lot of people doing it. 

Don’t spam an account to show up first. Leave meaningful thoughts, times 50. Be active digitually, then show up–virtually or physically. 

Resources: 

24 Free Online Ivy League Courses You Can Sign Up for Today

How Much Can Influencers Actually Make? 

9 Tips for Young Women Entering the Workforce

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