by Dawun Al-Islam
The foot of the hills and home of the Tigers; the brand of the beamer and mark of Michelin, ball games, fall festivals, entertainment and professional organizations; these are not just some of the reasons the Upstate is ranked 13 on Forbes best cities for young adults. It is values, waving to your neighbor, and bringing home a ‘good’ girl or guy that still means something here. The young millennial looking to do something with their college degree and the one with hard work ethic alone, both see something in reach: the big O. That’s right, Opportunity!
So behold! The bright-eyed millennial stands at the door of opportunity and knocks, waiting for someone to hear her voice. Then, a slot about eye level in the door slides open and the seasoned voice on the other side asks for the password. The innocently nervous voice replies “But no one told me about a password. I’m afraid I don’t have one…wait a minute! Try “Clemson!” Just before I left Kansas I was told this would work if I got in a tough spot”. But alas, it didn’t work. The password had changed a few years ago just before the great recession and rebooted to the default system restore password. Back in a far away time – the time before Google – passwords weren’t given out or decrypted. They were earned. Not just by your degree or years of experience, but by your performance. In places like the Upstate that is often spread by word of mouth. This is one reason why your network is important. A good network upholds the value that a handshake isn’t just something practiced in first year college prep, it is the dotted line under which a man speaks the signature of his name.
As millennials, we often reflect on not-too-distant school days,first loves, and blossoming careers. Notwithstanding, we also learn sooner from our mistakes, push for faster success and continue the daily quest to keep up with technology. Why? Because it is conveniently demanded and expected of us when we lend our talent to an organization in need. However, when there is talk of reward, the ever allusive response is we don’t have enough experience. Alas! The young millennial shouldn’t fret just yet. There is a small, but important character who has been traveling this journey to help us meet the wizard.
Courage, intelligence, and heart goes a long way, but it is RESPECT that will pull back the curtain and reveal the wizard (often your boss or senior in position) to be just another human being looking for a better life himself. Good work Toto! As young millennials we pay our dues in a number of ways, but we must not forget that respect is sold separately! It also works philosophically different from the most popular religion today among millennials, which is capital accumulation. Respect works like this: the more you give, the more you get.
As a young professional in the Upstate, I see respect in what the foothills does to protect us from harsh weather. I respect the hard work Clemson Tigers, BMW and Michelin, as well as fall festivals put in every year to make this place worthy of the great citizens who inhabit it. I am respectful of the local professional organizations who channel the passion of millennials into a useful tool to unearth treasures within themselves. I am respectful of the educators, clergy, law enforcement, state officials, and inspiring entertainers who fight the good fight in their own ways in hopes of making life a little better for me and my generation. I am also respectful of myself and the disciplines I’ve chosen to pursue in life. And with our newfound noun added to all of our wonderful qualities as millennials we once again approach the doors of opportunity in the Upstate and knock confidently in anticipation for that slot in the door to slide open once again.
Dawun is a seeker of truth and a lover of laughter. He is a young professional who holds traditional values and multiple degrees across a variety of disciplines. Born and raised in the Upstate, he is the founder of YBP.org, a platform dedicated to connecting young professionals to one another. His pursuits include self discovery and empowering other young professionals to reach their full potential.