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Gen-Y Outlook: Making the Best of the Worst


Surviving the downturn with a positive attitude in the right location.

This article was written by Ben Potts, a 25-year old Miami resident.

The recent economic downturn didn't really surprise me. I'm not saying I could have predicted when, how long, or how intense the crisis would be, but I knew that an economy with a major industry that inflated like real estate did was not sustainable.

I graduated from college in 2006 and immediately entered into an MBA program at the University of Miami. The MBA program ended in 2007, and I took an analyst position at a Miami-based investment bank specializing in mergers and acquisitions in Latin America. The financial markets began their decline toward the end of 2007, which directly led to decreased business for the bank in 2008.

After working typical investment banker hours and not earning typical investment banker pay, which can be very high if the firm does well, I quit my job at the beginning of 2009. I'm now 25, working in a bar on South Beach, and the happiest I've been in years. I make about 40% more money and have about 50% more free time.

Financially, I wasn't severely affected by the downturn. Some of my friends lost their jobs, but most of them are now employed. Living on Miami Beach, I've seen hotels, bars, clubs, and restaurants go out of business. I've read news articles about high unemployment rates, but it seems I live in a relatively insulated area. The tourism, leisure, and entertainment industries have certainly declined, but it doesn't appear to be too substantial.

Society tends to view my generation as entitled, that Generation Y-ers feel success and a thriving economy are somehow owed to them. While I've never felt entitled, I believe that hard work, a positive attitude, and the right motivation leads to success.

I consider myself to be very accomplished. I have a great job, fair compensation, a high quality of life (I wake up around noon and have work at eight o'clock, which is only four days a week), and I have a clear and optimistic future.

Eventually, I'd like to open my own bar. Bars and certain types of night clubs can be somewhat recession-proof. I'm in a great position to learn how the business works, and in a few years I may be able to open my own place. While my current lifestyle is perhaps more appropriate for a 25-year-old, I think that owning rather than working in a bar will be more suitable for a family life. Assuming my first venture is successful, I may have an opportunity to open more bars or I may consider opening restaurants or other entertainment and service-oriented businesses.

I have an upbeat view of my life and the lives of those who are willing to work hard, but I trust this crisis is a result of our government-mismanaged monetary system, which would be better left to private enterprise. While my libertarian point of view also suspects the economy will get worse if this doesn't happen, things really haven't changed much for me personally during this recession.
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