“This is the most humbled I’ve ever felt in my life,” a teary-eyed Gen Z graduate reported back to her TikTok fans while holding a stack of resumes after a disappointing day of job-seeking—and the brutal wake-up call has struck a generational nerve.
In the video, which has amassed over 23 million views, Lohanny Santos a 26-year-old from Brooklyn with a dual degree and three languages up her sleeve shared that she’d been going door-to-door to find work to no avail.
Santos, who posts under the handle @lohannysant, broke down in tears while admitting that she’d given up hopes of becoming a full-time influencer and needed a job with a full-time salary.
After her online venture didn’t generate enough income to pay the bills, she went into several coffee shops to hand them her resume—just like she did when she was 16 and was looking for a job. But it wasn’t long before the Pace University graduate realized that not even “two degrees in communications and acting” is enough to land a $16 an hour job in New York in the current tough job market.
“It’s honestly a little bit embarrassing because I’m literally applying for, like, minimum-wage jobs,” she cried. “And some of them are being like, ‘We’re not hiring’ and it’s like, ‘What?’ This is not what I expected.”
“This sucks,” she concluded.
Graduates have it bad
Lockdown-era graduates already faced a tough road after they were forced to study alone on Zoom during the pandemic rather than share the valuable coming-of-age university experience enjoyed by their parents. Now, they’re being told that the degree they went into debt for is no longer worth much—as Santos found out.
Many major employers have dropped their long-held degree requirements, meanwhile, recruiters globally are now five times more likely to search for new hires by skills over higher education. Even LinkedIn has echoed that the hottest skills to land a job right now can’t be learned in a textbook.
“I was so upset and disappointed in myself because growing up, I was told that if I get an education, if I go to college, then I’ll be successful,” Santos told Business Insider—and she’s not the first Gen Zer to complain about feeling tricked into pursuing further education.
Just last month, 27-year-old Robbie Scott similarly went viral on TikTok for insisting that Gen Z isn’t any less willing to work than generations before. Instead, he said, they are “getting angry and entitled and whiny” about the prospect of having to work hard for the rest of their adult life, only to “get nothing in return”.
“What’s sh-tty is, we’re holding up our end of the deal,” Scott said. “We’re staying in school. We’re going to college. We’ve been working since we were 15, 16 years old…doing everything that y’all told us to do so that we can what? Still be living in our parents’ homes in our late twenties?”
‘So many people are going through this right now’
Just hours after Santos hit upload on her harsh reality check moment, over 3 million people had tuned in and thousands of comments were flooding in from people in a similar position.
“I had 50,000 followers on TikTok, and I woke up to an audience of 130,000 followers 48 hours later,” she told Business Insider. In the days since then, her follower count has scaled to over the 150,000 mark.
“I’m so happy that I shared this with you because I feel like I can make someone else feel less alone,” the TikToker added in a recent follow-up video.
“Girl, I totally understand,” one user sympathized. “I’m an immigrant, completely bilingual and with a master’s degree, the only job that called me back is at a bubble tea store and that’s what I’m doing now.”
“So many people are going through this right now! You are not alone! Nobody seems to know what the future looks like right now, we’re all scared,” another added.
Meanwhile, others accused Santos of “just trying to get attention as an influencer so she doesn’t have to get a real job”.
Either way, Santos’ public job search somewhat paid off—yesterday, she announced that she landed her first brand partnership with a contraception pill company off the back of the video.