As Idaho’s political leaders struggle to find millions of dollars in the state budget and as business leaders fight to stave off long-term damage to their market positions, many young professionals have been able to at least tread water in these tumultuous economic times. The question now for many young professionals, however, is how do we remain relevant and excel in a very different working world than the one we entered just a few years ago?
Virtually without question, it is going to get worse before it gets better. Idaho’s unemployment hovers around 9 percent. In the last two years, we’ve shaved nearly $700 million from state government, leaving many vital state programs hanging in the balance. By the time Idaho’s economy turns the corner, our government and our lives could be dramatically different.
Our generation has had it pretty easy. While every one of us has felt the downturn, our personal and professional lives are just beginning. Our retirement savings are not lost forever. The career we built over decades is not gone. The cornerstone businesses of our generation – Apple, Microsoft, and Google – all still have their doors open.
We again find ourselves with a whole new world of opportunity. We must seize it.
We have the freedom to reimagine industry and workforce capabilities. We have the flexibility and talent to reinvent ourselves and our local economy to be better, faster and stronger. The first step is to realize that we can no longer wait for an economic recovery; we have to create it.
What are our priorities? Do we want to climb the corporate ladder? Work toward the long-term stability of our particular industry by being innovative and finding new and better ways to do things? Do we want, and are we willing, to put our efforts toward finding a balance between work and personal lives that allows financial security while finding time to make our world a better place to live?
One place for us to engage in answering these questions is in the important work occurring at the state level through efforts like the Governor’s Innovation Council and Project 60 that are focused on helping Idaho maintain and attract new industries.
Another area where we can take action is in working to find innovative ways to keep our schools strong in the face of these difficult budget times. Surely there are ways that new and innovative partnerships can be forged between businesses and local schools.
Finally, no matter what happens with the state budget this year, the things that make Idaho a great place to live – our parks and our arts community, just to name two – will need bright minds and strong backs to partner with to ensure our quality of life isn’t just maintained but thrives.
Our generation has been called a lot of things. Let’s make new names for ourselves at this critical juncture in time. Leaders. Innovators. Thinkers. Doers. Our time is now.
Mckinsey Miller is an associate in the Boise office of Gallatin Public Affairs, a Pacific Northwest firm specializing in helping businesses navigate the intersection of politics, the media and government. Mckinsey works in the Local Government Relations and Energy Policy and Facility Siting practice groups at Gallatin. She is also the Media and Public Relations chair for Boise Young Professionals.