Rochelle Behrens spent five years in political affairs as both a White House intern and an associate at a bipartisan lobbying firm. She loved the political scene but by age 25, something began to bother her. Like many of her Millennial peers, Behrens says she was raised on a diet of encouragement to live her dreams. “The attitude was very much, ’Do what you love and success will follow,’” she says, “and so there’s this pressure to not just succeed at a young age, but to be fulfilled and passionate about your day-to-day.”
For Behrens, that sense of passion was missing. “I began to feel a sense of ennui that I wasn’t doing what I loved.” And that’s when things got interesting. Rather than enter the sophomore slump of career dissatisfaction, Behrens took her life’s savings of $50,000 and struck a new path as an entrepreneur. Her year-old, single-product company, The Shirt, a patented button-down oxford for women that claims to eliminate bust line gapping, has been featuredon the Today Show and Oprah Winfrey named it her “Must-Have Fashion Item” of 2011. 15,000 units were sold last year alone. Not bad for a passion project.
In late 2011 a wildly popular ForbesWoman post argued that Millennial women are “burning out” in the workplace by age 30. Citing “career flameouts,” contributor Larissa Faw pointed to McKinsey numbers to illustrate a stark drop-off of women in the corporate ranks: 53% of entry level jobs are held by women (presumably the aforementioned “Millennials”), but women hold only 37% of mid-management positions and 26% in senior management. By this measuring stick, it’s easy to see that not all women are making it up the ladder. Faw points to “unrealistic expectations,” muddied career goals and short-sighted thinking as reasons why unhappy women aren’t advancing.