Preparing students for the “age of the gig”

By Kinsey Johnson

NPR’s lead education blogger speaks of the changes in today’s increasingly priced higher education, and the impacts choices after college can have on a planetary level.

Anya Kamenetz spoke optimistically to her audience of about 150 students and locals on March 6 in UW-Eau Claire’s Schofield Auditorium. Kamenetz discussed the shift in working Americans from the “age of the job to the age of the gig,” stating that the average worker in America now has only been in their job for about four years. With projects and income becoming more unpredictable for the average worker, the pressure to pay off student loans rises as well.

Kamenetz is a New York City writer and graduate from Yale University. She’s been the lead education blogger at NPR since 2014 and has published several books regarding education. Her forum was revolved around “Generation Debt,” a book Kamenetz published 12 years ago at age 25.  

“We have to be really fiercely optimistic and hopeful,” Kamenetz said. “You have to actively create and imagine a future you do want.” Kamenetz spoke positively about the idea of branching out after college and jumping from “gig” to “gig.”

Allison Blechinger was an audience member at the forum and is a junior at UW-Eau Claire majoring in psychology. “I just thought it was really interesting that she brought up the fact it’s more and more common for people to change their jobs often, ” Blechinger said. “It was surprisingly hopeful, because I don’t really know what I want to do after I graduate yet.”

Kamenetz spoke liberally of the rise in college tuition, stating that costs of universities can continue to increase because people can continue to take out loans for it, inevitably increasing student debt. “We have this problem on a personal level, we have it on a national level. And there’s even a planetary level,” Kamenetz said, referring to global warming. She urged her audience to consider the impact of the work that they are doing or are becoming educated to do. “[your jobs] fit into an ecosystem and a vision,” Kamenetz said. She spoke of the society’s need for change as she reminded her audience to think of the “bigger picture impact.”

Charles Johnson was another audience member at the forum, as well as a sophomore at UW-Eau Claire double majoring in journalism and political science. “I loved the way she spoke about finding a job that can actually make a difference in our society,” Johnson said. “It made me really think about why I’m studying political science and how I want to better the world with it.”

Kamenetz spoke strongly about her faith and trust in newer generations, hopeful that young people will take a stand against some of the policies and patterns in current American society. “We don’t take no for an answer,” Kamenetz said.


Kamenetz speaks optimistically to her audience of about 150 students and locals of the Eau Claire area on Tuesday. 


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