TIME Careers & Workplace

The Huge Mistake Millennials Are Making Now

skynesher—Getty Images/Vetta

Young workers rate international opportunities dead last when it comes to what makes a job attractive. Why travel when you can get all the foreign experience you need via FaceTime?

Millennials are taking telecommuting to a whole new level. They view virtual foreign work experience as having equal career value to a true stint overseas, a new report reveals. As a result, many are passing up foreign assignments that, in a global economy, could help them advance more quickly.

International experience ranks dead last among 15 factors that make a job attractive, according to Millennial Compass, a study of work-life attitudes by MSL Group and researchers Dr. Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré at Ashridge Business School in the U.K. Ranking second to last in importance: working in a multi-cultural environment.

Who knew that twentysomethings were such homebodies? This would seem to come as a shock to an entire industry that has sprung up to facilitate overseas internships and work experience, as well as to global corporations that need boots on the ground in many different cultures. Still, while the younger generation of workers may prefer their iPad to a suitcase, don’t call them insular.

Millennials say they are missing out on nothing. They believe they are gaining international experience through social media, personal networks and technology. Growing up in a world where the Internet has erased geographic boundaries, many young workers are confident in their ability to run business in a new way. As one respondent put it: “The place I get hung up on is the actual, physical overseas part of it. In such an interconnected world, I don’t necessarily think you need to literally travel across the ocean to get overseas experience.”

We’ve known for years that this generation values work-life balance and a meaningful job experience, teamwork, and job mobility above rapid advancement. I respect these priorities and young workers who get the job done on their own terms. I also accept their ability to forge real bonds and relationships over the Internet. But for a group that came of age in a global economy, it seems odd that young folks would dismiss physical multi-cultural experience so readily.

In the U.S., just 18% of Millennials intend to work overseas in the next five years—and that’s mainly to gain personal, not career experience, the study found. The numbers are low in the U.K (29%) and France (28%) as well. Millennials in nations such as India, China and Brazil have a higher regard for international experience. For example, 70% in India and 61% in China say working overseas for a while is important.

So guess what? Those countries are where global companies will step up recruiting. “Millennials in countries such as the U.S., U.K. and France are lowering their chances for exciting career opportunities in global corporations when they show less interest in moving far beyond their native geography, family and friends,” says Brian Burgess, global co-leader of the employee practice at MSL. “Millennials should not confuse global social connections with real global experience.”

The good news is that young Americans willing to tear themselves away from their family and friends for a few years can stand out and reap significant career benefits. In time, the millennial generation will be in charge and the companies they run may be more accepting of workers who see no difference between Skype and a handshake. But for now—not that Millennials care—this stay-in-my-comfort-zone attitude threatens to hold them back.

TIME Financial Planning

The President’s New Mission: Teach the Children (About Money)

President And Mrs. Obama Depart White House For Florida
Win McNamee—Getty Images

The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans opens for business Monday and is squarely focused on kids in the effort to empower Americans to take charge of a better financial future

Shakespeare asked: what’s in a name? His point was that names do not define the person or entity. But I would argue otherwise, at least as it relates to a top authority advising the President on how to empower Americans to take charge of their financial lives.

On Monday, the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans meets for the first time. The name itself is a mouthful; the acronym PACFCYA looks like it’s been Travoltified. Still, a lot can be read into this name, which promises to set a smart new course for financial education in the U.S.

American presidents have been on the financial education bandwagon formally since George W. Bush authorized a President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy in 2008. Bush’s famous vision was of an ownership society. “We want people to own assets,” he said in authorizing the first council. “We want people to be able to manage their assets.”

His lofty goal was to equip everyone with the financial know-how needed to parse complicated terms and fees, and generally get ahead by fending for themselves in the free marketplace. The hope was that a population smarter about its money would reduce odds of a repeat financial crisis. As chairman of the council, Charles Schwab, wrote in the first report: “The charge was simple, yet daunting: improve financial literacy among all Americans.”

The mission took on a new look under President Obama, who in his first term reconstituted the board under the new name: President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, swapping “Literacy” for “Capability.” As I wrote at the time, the simple word change spoke volumes about the new council’s approach. This group was more about equalizing access to key financial products like checking and savings accounts. A big part of its mission, as stated in the charter, was to “take into consideration the particular needs of traditionally underserved populations, such as youth, minorities, low- and moderate-income Americans, immigrants, and low-literacy adults.” Meanwhile, regulators would set up vast new protections so that a deeper understanding of money issues wasn’t critical for most people.

Both approaches have their virtues. Certainly, it’s good for consumers to understand and be able to fend for themselves rather than rely on regulators to keep the financial bad guys at bay. But not everyone gets it when it comes to personal finance, and those who don’t would clearly benefit from common sense dictates like simple financial statements and plain vanilla mortgages.

Now we come to the third iteration of this important body, and “for Young Americans” has been tacked on to the name. Teaching kids about money has always been part of the council’s mission. But now it is the sole focus, which puts the emphasis where it ought to be. Solving financial illiteracy is a long-term project that should begin with young people, and by that I mean students in first grade.

“The last council was for people of all ages,” says Beth Kobliner a financial author reappointed to the new council. “Now, the entire council is about young people.” She believes the new name provides absolute clarity of the mission and that there will be little tolerance for indecision. “Action is going to be the buzzword,” she says. “It’s no coincidence that President Obama declared ‘a year of action’ in his State of the Union address.”

Another reappointed member, activist John Hope Bryant, founder and CEO of Operation Hope, echoes Kobliner’s view, writing in his blog that “this new Council will be different. It’s primary focus will be action, moving the needle, and getting things done…this Council will be more innovative, more solution seeking, more impactful.”

Research shows that early and frequent financial education works. Indeed, the council can expect a dose of data on this point at its first meeting. “This group will be able to show the country how to truly make a difference in the financial capability of our children,” says another reappointed member, Ted Beck president and CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education.

In many ways, the financial education movement in the U.S. has stalled. There has been little progress, for example, in states making personal finance a required line of school study. The mission has been bogged down with handwringing over what works and what doesn’t, and where to best target resources. The PACFCYA seems determined to break the logjam by zeroing in on what works with kids. That may be reading a lot into a name. But then I’m no Shakespeare.

TIME Retirement

Inflation? Hooey, but You Still Need Protection in Retirement

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Just as economists and bond traders missed the reversal from inflation to disinflation three decades ago, a new generation lulled into a new reality will miss it again when consumer prices push higher in a sustained way.

Betting on the return of inflation has been a fool’s game for more than two decades. But that doesn’t mean inflation has been whipped forever, and even a moderate sustained rise in consumer prices can have devastating impact on unprepared retirees.

Consider that at just 2.5% inflation, prices would double (and your buying power would be cut in half) over a 28-year retirement. At 4%, prices would triple over that period and your buying power would fall by two-thirds. This is brutal math for any retiree in good health and living on a fixed income.

Economists like Paul Krugman at the New York Times argue there is little to fear. He believes a wrongheaded inflation obsession, chiefly among policymakers, is holding back the economic recovery. Certainly, inflation has been tame; there hasn’t been an annual reading over 4% since 1991 and most readings have been below 3%. Last year came in at just 1.5%, sparking more worries about falling prices than about rising prices.

But others argue that just as a generation of economists and bondholders accustomed to soaring inflation during the 1970s were caught off guard by 25 years of disinflation, today’s generation similarly will be caught off guard by a reversal—and the return of more rapidly rising prices. As the noted economist David Rosenberg at Gluskin Sheff recently wrote:

“We have an entirely new crew of bond traders on the desks, the sons, daughters, nephews and nieces of the old guard, who have only known disinflation, deflation, lower (minuscule) bond yields and radical Fed easing cycles. That is all they have known for their entire professional lives. Their elders didn’t see the great deflation coming, and the offspring don’t see the remote prospect of a moderately higher inflation environment coming at any time on the forecasting horizon.”

To be clear, almost no one is suggesting anything like the 1970s is in store for as far as the eye can see. But health care costs are rising a little faster, rents are going up, and labor may at last be gaining some leverage on wages in the improving economy—all potential harbingers of higher inflation down the road.

“This should scare the hell out of those of us who are retired and living on (at least partly) fixed incomes,” writes the economist Lewis Mandell for PBS. Just to be safe, you may want to inflation protect your income. Certain assets like gold and real estate serve as an inflation hedge but come with drawbacks. Gold produces no income; real estate can be fickle and difficult to sell. Happily, Social Security benefits rise along with consumer prices. So that portion of your security blanket is fine. But almost no other income-oriented investment, including most traditional pensions, automatically adjusts for inflation.

Protecting retirement income is not cheap. Mandell estimates that an immediate fixed annuity with an inflation adjustment initially generates about a third less income than one without an adjustment. So you don’t want to over do it. Still, if you can afford to sacrifice some income now such an annuity with a portion of your savings may offer peace of mind.

Another way to protect your retirement income from inflation is through Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, better known as TIPS. These T-bonds adjust for rising consumer prices over the life of the bond, which may go out 30 years. They aren’t perfect, or cheap. But TIPS may afford the best income protection you’ll find.

Let’s say you want to protect $10,000 of annual income for the next 30 years. According to Mandell’s calculations, if inflation averages 2% over that period an investment of $52,257 in TIPS would offset any purchasing power loss due to inflation. If inflation over that period hewed to the 100-year average of 3.43% you’d need $79,553 in TIPS. At 4%, you’d need $88,703.

This exercise helps make clear the impact even modest inflation can have on your ability to pay for things with a fixed income over many years. Serious inflation probably isn’t in the cards anytime soon. But with a long runway still ahead, young retirees are at risk of losing their lifestyle unless they protect at least some of their income from the effects of inflation.


A Clean Start: From Real Estate Exec to Laundromat Owner

photo: leah overstreet Louise Mann, 57, was a sales manager for a realty firm. Now she co-owns three laundromats in Austin, Texas.

If Louise Mann had kept her dirty laundry to herself, she might not be where she is today.

One day in late 2007 her washing machine gave out, forcing the mother of two to go in search of a laundromat near her home outside Austin. She discovered a business idea in the process.

“All the places were dirty and dark, and the people inside didn’t look happy,” recalls Mann. “I started thinking, ‘It can’t be that hard to make laundromats more inviting.'”

At the time, Mann was a senior regional sales manager at a worldwide temporary-housing provider, but changes in the commission structure there had left her feeling discontented. So she was especially motivated to spend her off-hours developing a business plan for a better laundromat — one that would be clean, bright, and environmentally responsible.

Her store would have planet-friendly features like energy-efficient machines and solar blinds, along with customer conveniences like free Wi-Fi and TV.

Related: Baby on the Way? Time to Make a Budget

She soon shared her idea with a neighbor, a general contractor whose partner had worked in dry cleaning. The three joined forces — and by the end of 2007, Mann had quit her job to work on launching Wash Day Laundry. “When you have a business idea, you just want to jump in and do it overnight,” she says.

An equipment vendor helped Mann and her partners find a storefront in a promising location: near several apartment complexes and miles away from the nearest competitor.

While the former liquor store was being retrofitted as a laundromat, Mann began promoting the business through social media, newspaper ads, bilingual fliers, and direct-mail coupons.

Launched in March 2009, Wash Day was an immediate hit: It reaped $275,000 its first year, which motivated the group to open two more laundromats in 2011.

Related: Ace Your Annual Review

“When it’s your own business, you don’t stagnate,” says Mann, who now earns $60,000 a year from the stores. “You learn all the time.”


$300,000: Amount she invested.

Most of it went to equipment and renovations for the first store. Mann, who was widowed in 2001, kept her family’s living costs low (moving to a smaller home, for example). Since remarrying in 2011, she says, “I now have the safety net of a second income.”

51%: Her share of the first store.

Her partners, both men, each claim 24.5%. (“For government contracts, it could help us to be woman-owned,” she notes.) She owns 49% of the second unit, and a third of the third, in which she invested $10,000 while her partners put in $30,000.

2015: Year she expects to take home six figures.

The company financed 75% of the equipment for the first unit; once that loan is paid off in 2015, about $12,000 a month drops to the bottom line. With the stores expected to bring in a combined $800,000 by then, Mann thinks her income will reach roughly $100,000, not far off from her old salary of $120,000.

TIME Personal Finance

Americans Are Taking on Debt at Scary High Rates

People walk along Broadway on December 2, 2013 in New York City.
Spencer Platt—Getty Images People walk along Broadway on December 2, 2013 in New York City.

Overall debt levels rose at the fastest rates seen since 2007, according to a new study by the Federal Reserve of New York

Americans are known risk-takers when it comes to their personal finances. While consumer spending has traditionally been one of the great engines of the U.S. economy, it also helped get the country into the Great Recession. So after five years of economic turmoil we’ve presumably become a little better at keeping track of our debts, right?

Not really. Data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show that at $11.52 trillion, overall consumer debt is higher than it has been since 2011. And more unsettling, debt is rising at rapid levels. Americans’ debt—that includes mortgages, auto loans, student loans and credit card debt—increased by 2.1%, or $241 billion in the last three months of 2013, the greatest margin of increase since the third quarter of 2007, shortly before the U.S. spiraled into recession.

And on an individual level, many Americans are in a precarious financial position. According to a survey released Tuesday by the financial monitor Bankrate.com, 28% of Americans have more credit card debt today than they have in a savings fund. That means that if one quarter of Americans even wanted to use their savings to pay off their debts at this moment, they wouldn’t be able to. Just 51% of Americans have more emergency savings than credit card debt, the lowest percentage since Bankrate begin tracking the issue in 2011. According to the Federal Reserve, overall credit debt increased by $11 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $683 billion, the highest levels since 2011.

That data is part of a disheartening series of figures that show Americans haven’t become much better at keeping track of their personal finances since the recession began in 2008, when homeowners’ risky mortgages and freewheeling interbank lending brought the financial system to its knees. “This is not moving in the right direction,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “American consumers are not showing improvement in these areas. ”

And despite consumers’ iffy savings records, banks are loosening up their credit card limits to levels not seen since the depth of the recession. Banks are increasingly comfortable with high credit lines. Total aggregate credit card limits have increased to $2.91 trillion, the highest levels since the third quarter of 2009, putting banks at increased risk if borrowers default on their debts.

All that does not mean we are on the road to a second recession. In fact, the increase in household debt could also have a lot to do with increased consumer confidence in the economy, which grew at 3.2 percent in the last quarter of 2013. And debt helps drive economic growth as consumers spend more money on the assurance they’ll make it back later. Overall debt levels are still lower than they were when the recession hit, even if they are increasing rapidly; consumer debt remains 9.1% below its 2008 peak of $12.68 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.

Carl Richards, a financial planner and director of investor education at BAM Advisor Services thinks that one explanation for Americans’ willingness to take on more debt could be the relative improvement of the economy over the past year, when the workforce added 2.2 million jobs over the course of the year. For consumers with extra money in their wallets, taking on more debt in anticipation of a bonus or a raise may not seem so risky. But that could be a big mistake. “We’ve already forgotten 2008 and 2009, and now we’re projecting into the indefinite future and we’re spending based on as if it had already happened,” says Richards. “Our default setting is optimistic, and maybe overly optimistic.”

If consumers aren’t on steady financial ground, it could put Americans at greater risk if the economy doesn’t improve at a fast enough rate. And it doesn’t help that Americans are not very good savers. “People aren’t making substantive progress on emergency savings,” says McBride, referring to Americans’ weak personal savings-to-debt ratio. “Americans have made some progress on debt repayment… but (savings) continues to be the Achilles heel of financial security. And it was never a strong point to begin with.”

The good news may be that many Americans are at least aware of their financially precarious situation. A monthly survey by Bankrate shows that Americans are less comfortable with their levels of savings than they have been in a year. Overall sense of financial security among Americans has fallen as well. Unfortunately, that partly reflects stagnant wages and increasing economic inequality. But it also reflects an awareness among Americans that they should be doing better. Americans “realize they need a lot more than they have, and they realize the progress is slow-going,” McBride says.

TIME Personal Finance

Capital One Wants To Visit You At Home

Bank's new credit card contract reserves the right to pay a "personal visit" to cardholders

“Hello, it’s Capital One, can I come in? I brought lemonade!”

That’s something credit card customers of the Capital One bank are worrying they might hear on their front doorsteps. The credit card issuer said in a recent contract update to cardholders that it can contact customers “in any manner we choose.”

That includes calls, emails, texts, faxes or a “personal visit,” reports the Los Angeles Times. The company has also reserved the right to suppress its caller ID and identify itself however it wants, a tactic known as spoof calling.

Capital One said that, despite the legal language, it doesn’t typically pay home visits to its customers. “Capital One does not visit our cardholders, nor do we send debt collectors to their homes or work,” the company spokeswoman said.

The bank told the L.A. Times it might occasionally “as a last resort” visit a customer’s home to repossess costly goods involved in credit promotions. But the spokesperson added that Capital One is “reviewing this language” in its contracts.


TIME Financial Education

The Economy is Big News–So Why not Teach it?

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With the economy on the front page most days the past six years, you might think economics and personal finance would be a prominent subject in our schools. Yet less than half of states require an economics course in high school and little more than a third require one in personal finance, according to a new survey.

The long trend is mildly positive. For the first time, all 50 states and the District of Columbia include economics in their K-12 education standards, meaning they have guidelines for those schools that want to offer such a course. Meanwhile, more states are offering and requiring personal finance courses.

These are the chief findings in the Council for Economic Education’s 2014 Survey of the States report, out today. The CEE, which surveys each state every two years, is a strong advocate for financial education and believes that requiring school courses in economics and personal finance is an important path to progress.

“A more financially capable population can result in a larger and more efficient market for financial products, greater participation in asset building and greater financial stability,” Richard Ketchum, Chairman of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, states in the report. “It is therefore in everyone’s interest that action be taken to improve the financial capability of all Americans.”

Ketchum notes that young people are entering adulthood saddled with debt: 36% of Millennials have student loans outstanding and 55% say they might not be able to repay this debt. Only a third have emergency savings while about the same share have unpaid medical bills. Nearly half carry a balance on their credit cards.

Financial education in schools is seen as one way to bring such numbers down over time. But first we have to bring up the numbers of states and schools that offer or require such coursework. The sobering numbers related to economic education are especially troubling because virtually every family in America was touched by economic troubles during and since the Great Recession.

While every state is on board with economic standards, just 24 require that an economic course be offered. That’s down one since the last survey. The number of states requiring that an economics course be taken in high school remains constant at 22. These numbers argue that the states are taking a pass on the mother of all teachable moments.

The news is a little better on the personal finance front. Now 18 states require that high schools offer a course, up from 14; and 16 states require personal finance instruction, up from 13 in the last survey. It’s not clear why there’s been more progress in personal finance. In part, the states that have embraced economic education are now picking up on the need for personal finance too. Another explanation is that while the hardships of the past half-decade may be better understood through an economics course, it’s better understanding of personal finance that will allow families to manage their way through tough times.

Despite the progress, these courses remain a tough sell at the state level—and that is where the battle lines are drawn. Unlike in the U.K. and other regions with a federal mandate for financial education, state authorities call the shots in America. They must be convinced one at a time, and they have been slow to respond.

TIME Personal Finance

Knowing Your Net Worth Can Help You Plan

Calculating your net value will help you plan your future more productively.
David Emmite—Getty Images Calculating your net value will help you plan your future more productively.

Calculating your net worth is easy, and a valuable exercise. Here's how.

Your boss doesn’t know your value, right? But do you even know it? Most people have never taken the time to figure their net worth even though it’s a fairly simple calculation. Why not take stock now? The New Year is still full of promise.

Your net worth is what you’d have left after selling everything, paying the bills and settling all debts. Think of it as your liquidation value. The number is of keen interest to heirs trying to understand what will be theirs. But it’s useful for you as well. Calculated annually, your net worth provides the clearest picture of whether you are getting ahead. It helps gauge when you might retire and gives a roadmap to where you are losing or gaining value. That makes it easier to adjust and meet your goals.

Say, for example, your goal is to retire with $1 million. But during the worst two years of the recession your net worth—your total liquid value—went from $380,000 to $250,000. You’d understand right away that you need to adjust. Net worth hits home in a more visceral way than, say, looking only at a 401(k) statement that provides only part of the picture.

To figure your net worth you need two sheets of paper, one of them labeled assets and the other labeled liabilities. You want to add all assets and subtract all liabilities, reducing your life thus far to a single number. You can find online calculators to help. You can also see how you stack up against people your age and at your income level. For example, the median 55-year-old has a net worth of $180,125; the median net worth of households earning $75,000 a year is $301,475, according to Nielsen Claritas.

Start with assets, including retirement savings, checking and savings account balances, bonds or annuities, the total value of any stock holdings, your home and automobiles. To really fine-tune the figure include artwork, jewelry, furniture and other possessions that for most people do not move the needle a great deal. Put a value on each of these things and add them.

On the liabilities sheet, list all credit card balances, personal loans, student loans, auto loans and mortgages. Then add those and subtract it from the figure you got on the assets sheet. Voila. You now know what you are worth on paper. Watching this number from year to year shows how new debts and all spending subtract from your net worth, while general thrift, retired debts, and investments that rise pad your net worth.

The figure is not perfect. Figuring your net worth is especially difficult if you own a small business, which may be difficult to value. If you are young and in a great career your net worth might be negative—but that’s okay. Once those college loans are paid off and you get a few raises that can turn around quickly. Likewise, if your net worth takes a dip because the stock market or housing market fell, that’s not so terrible assuming you can hold on for the recovery. But it’s always good to know where you stand.

TIME Personal Finance

Millennials Put Their Surprising Stamp on the American Dream

Millennials seek travel and self-employment as part of their American dream.
Roberto Westbrook—Getty Images/Image Source Millennials seek travel and self-employment as part of their American dream.

Shaped by the times, Millennials dream about travel and self employment--and staying far off the corporate ladder.

Every generation puts its stamp on the American Dream. But none have re-engineered the term quite like Millennials, who mostly want to travel and not work slavishly for the man.

The American Dream has been part of our culture since the 1930s, and has at times referred to home ownership, a good job, retirement security, or each generation doing better than the last. Now comes a new young adult population to say it means none of that; the dream is really about day-to-day control of your life.

In a new poll, 38% of Millennials say travel is part of the American Dream, exceeding the 28% who name secure retirement. They identify the dream of home ownership at a far lower rate than Gen X and baby boomers. Meanwhile, 26% of Millennials cite self-employment as part of the dream—more than Gen X (23%) and older boomers (16%), according to MassMutual’s third biennial study The 2013 State of the American Family.

These attitudes make a lot of sense in the context of the era that Millennials have come of age. Home ownership? Many of them saw the foreclosure crisis up close. A good job? The rate of 16- to 24-year-olds out of school and out of work is unusually high at 15%. Many college graduates have taken jobs that don’t require a degree.

What about retirement security? Again, this generation has seen the retirement hopes of its parents fade with lackluster investment results and crumbling pensions. It seems the Great Recession left its mark. As a group, Millennials prize job mobility, flexible schedules, any work that is more interesting than punching a keyboard, and the ability to travel and be with friends. Millennials (11%) are far more likely than boomers (3%) to identify close friends as part of their family. To an extent, they are starting to get what they want at the office.

Many find this new worldview troubling. If a recent Millennial-focused Rolling Stone article championing a socialist agenda is anywhere near correct, the worriers may have a point. The author is looking for the second coming of Karl Marx “to grow old in a just, fair society, rather than the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.” He wants guaranteed jobs, government-supplied minimum income, real estate confiscation and more.

The argument is absurd and grossly overstated. But it points up how different the landscape is for young adults today, and the growing level of frustration that has emerged since the recession. A true American Dream has to feel attainable, and many Millennials aren’t feeling they can attain much more than a day-to-day lifestyle that suits them.

They aren’t alone, by the way. Some 45% of older boomers agree that the American Dream is slipping away—up from 30% two years ago. Boomers still cling to the old American Dream of financial independence (80%) and home ownership (78%). But for a broad swath of the population those dreams too are starting to feel elusive.

TIME Career Strategies

Global Internships: The New Key to Getting a Job

Job seekers on their way to meet employers at the 25th Annual CUNY big Apple Job and Internship Fair at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on April 26, 2013 in New York City.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

As if paying for college wasn't enough, now students are paying to get a high-value internship that will give them an edge in the job market.

The debate over the value of college that billionaire Peter Thiel sparked three years ago hasn’t gone away. Yet most adults continue to place a high priority on saving for college, and a growing number of families are doubling down on education—paying for high-value internships on top of a degree.

Youth unemployment remains high—about 13% globally. Thiel and others argue that it’s foolish to go into debt for a diploma when so few appropriate jobs are available for graduates. Better to start a small business or learn a trade.

Statistics say otherwise. The Pew Research Center found that a typical adult with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1.42 million over 40 years—$650,000 more than someone with only a high school degree. The cost of college and lost income while in school narrows the gap slightly, to $550,000. Pew also found that adults with a college degree fared better in the Great Recession.

There is no denying that crushing student loans may bear on graduates for years, and that those who go into debt but fail to graduate are especially hard pressed. But for most people education works, and the good news is that through online courses the price will come down markedly over the next decade, and may even become free.

So it’s no surprise to see parents and young people continuing to place a high priority on higher education and the pre- or post-graduate internships that boost employment prospects. Among families that have saved anything for college, 85% say it is one of their top three priorities and 60% will save more this year than they saved last year, according to a Fidelity Investments survey. They are saving monthly (81%), or earmarking their tax refund (37%) or a bonus or pay raise (36%), and redirecting funds that had been used for day care or another expiring expense (29%).

On top of this, families have begun budgeting for global internships, a trend that universities and a cottage industry of placement firms has furthered. “The data show that international internships are highly regarded by employers,” says David Lloyd, founder of the Intern Group, which has placed young adults from 80 countries in positions around the world. “The kids who will be successful today are those that take themselves out of their comfort zone and develop a global mindset.”

This means going beyond simple study abroad programs to employment in a foreign country that will build a young person’s contacts and context, Lloyd says. Such programs are especially popular in the U.S., where more than a third of Intern Group alumni reside. Lloyd says that 88% of those who take part in his firm’s programs find work at a graduate level job within three months and that 95% say the program was good for their career.

These internships start at around $3,500 for a six-week program. Some last six months and are more expensive. But, says Lloyd, “employers worldwide prize graduates with global experience and international cultural awareness.” The right internship gives graduates a decided edge.

Hilton Hotels is among companies that prize internships, and at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos announced an Open Doors campaign to help 1 million young people “reach their full potential” over the next five years through global apprenticeship and other programs. “These are a huge deal,” says Jennifer Silberman, vice president of corporate responsibility at Hilton Worldwide. “Young people are at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t get this kind of experience.”

Indeed, McKinsey found that half of college graduates are not sure that their education improved their job prospects and that 39% of employers say entry-level jobs go unfilled because young people don’t have the required job skills. An apprenticeship, says Silberman, “lets us identify high-potential workers and fast-track them.” The travel industry is projected to create 73 million jobs the next 10 years, and most of them have career potential, she says, adding that it’s not unusual for an apprentice to be offered a full-time job and then get their first promotion within six months.

You don’t necessarily need a college degree to become a concierge or housekeeping manager, which is kind of the argument Thiel and others make against going into debt to go to college. But even in the services-heavy travel industry there are lots of marketing, technology and management jobs that require higher education—and where a high-value internship really helps.

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