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Navigating the Great Resignation as a jaded millennial

I’ve had three corporate jobs in three years, quit two of them, and I’d do it again.

Globe staff; Panithan/Adobe

Last month, The New York Times ran an article boiling down the “Great Resignation” to “peer pressure” that made millions of Americans quit their jobs. After soliciting the opinions of five business owners, CBS’s “60 Minutes” determined the “Big Quit” was a “worker problem.”

Wrong. Those who, like me, are a part of the Great Resignation have acted on what I have known for years: Company loyalty doesn’t pay, monetarily or otherwise. As a jaded millennial and serial job jumper, I’ve had three corporate jobs in three years, quit two of them, and I’d do it again.


Three years ago, with a bachelor’s degree and work experience, I was offered $16 an hour after taxes from a Boston Fortune 500 financial services firm. Despite the firm having $260 billion in assets, I didn’t have six sick days to my name, but was nonetheless expected to work through my lunch because of the “optics” and asked to come in earlier than my contracted hours in order to actually “start on time.”

After I got a call back from one of the Big Four consulting firms, my first inclination was to negotiate to stay at my first job. In response, the recruiter promised “more money (almost $25,000 more) and better projects.” For someone who survived off Heinz beans and hadn’t yet splurged on a bed frame, it was a no-brainer. I quit that first job four months in.

My second job brought about a new but familiar kind of hell. For a year, I worked 75-plus hours each week flying from Boston to Little Rock, Ark. (about 3,000 miles, or the equivalent of commuting to London). Again, I found myself working for $16 an hour after taxes.

It’s arguable that long hours may come with the territory of consulting. However, the advancement of technology in the past 10 years has changed the dynamics of contemporary work culture. Much like how the advent of light bulbs extended the natural workday, Wi-Fi, Google, and cell phones have interrupted the natural rest periods and boundaries previously built into our daily routines.


Unlike past generations, millennial workers are expected to be online or reachable 24/7. I have responded to Skype pings 42,000 feet in the air, answered weekend e-mails from remote Vermont cabins, and have regularly taken phone calls after leaving the office.

This dynamic stretches across industries and is not just limited to white-collar jobs. As a former waitress, I would regularly be bombarded with texts on my days off if the restaurant was understaffed. If I refused or set boundaries, I could expect to be penalized with a worse table section, erroneous job-performance review, or a written warning.

Like most workers, I was never truly “offline.” A life outside work was secondary, since I was expected to be beholden to the company above all else. In contrast, I was considered a disposable at-will worker, who, like millions of Americans, watched their colleagues be unceremoniously laid off at the beginning of the pandemic. Is loyalty not a two-way street?

Despite being the most highly educated and qualified generation thus far, most millennials are pensionless, offered minimum-wage jobs, and are struggling to afford down payments on homes, student loans, or children. To afford the basic luxuries of past generations, the only options are to leave your current job for a pay bump or get left behind.


I chose to leave my second corporate job in June 2021, after learning that with a promotion and pay increase I was still making less than a fresh-out-of-college junior analyst hired that same cycle. At a rival consulting firm, I was offered significantly more money and expected to work 9-to-5 from the comfort of my own home. In total: I make almost three times what I made at my first job three years ago.

Considering that many companies reported record profit margins during the COVID-19 pandemic, underpaying their loyal workers was a deliberate choice. Choices have consequences. If American companies want to retain their employees, they should consider offering pensions, work-from-home options, respecting after-work hours, and providing higher salaries.

Until then, I urge American companies to consider the unsolicited parting words workers have heard for years: It’s not personal, it’s business. Loyalty doesn’t pay unless you do.

Katie Hitchcock-Smith is a millennial and consultant.