Dear Young People: Choose Your First Job Carefully

A team from the Universities of Cambridge, Bristol, and the University College London’s Social Research Institute find that both education and job stresses during a person’s late teens and early 20s can predict who will or won’t suffer from heart trouble 20 years later. Moreover, researchers say these early experiences in the working world actually have a stronger link to heart health during middle age than that same person’s current job when they reach their 40s.

Researchers looked at the health records of more than 12,000 people in the 1970 British Birth Cohort during their study. The team then used a data-driven method to separate these individuals into different socioeconomic groups, depending on how much education they had, their job type, and how long they were unemployed between the ages of 16 and 24. Study authors then compared these results to each person’s cardiovascular risk factors at age 46. These measures included blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and waist circumference.

The results show that young workers who spent a longer time in school and quickly went into a professional or managerial role as a young adult displayed better cardiovascular health 20 years later. Interestingly, this link isn’t completely due to certain workers having a higher income or better job at age 46.

In fact, study authors believe their findings show that economic factors during middle age don’t contribute to the link between a young adult’s socioeconomic trajectory and future health. Instead, the authors believe companies and workers need to start paying more attention to stress, depression, and job demands on young employees.

“We found that an individual’s education and employment experiences in early adulthood had a far larger impact on measures of cardiovascular health more than twenty years later than their occupation or income at that time did,” says first author Dr. Eleanor Winpenny.

This seems like great news to share with my students. Most of the students I interact with spend four years earning a bachelor’s degree, and then take an entry-level, professional position, in their field of choice.

It seems to be exactly what this study is calling for in terms of helping young people get off to a good start, which will reap healthy benefits as they start to approach middle-age.

The only concern I have, and this was highlighted both by COVID and the Olympics, is that many young people feel a great deal of stress, and that needs to be addressed. Despite seeming to have it all, many of these young adults are feeling a lot of pressure, which puts a lot of stress on their health.

So I think in addition to preparing these young people to successfully transition into a professional position, we need to also prepare them on how to avoid and manage stress.

Such a combination would likely reap significant benefits twenty to thirty years down the road. That is an age when many people are feeling the stress of homeownership, having children of their own, and career management.

If they have been taught how to successfully cope with such stressors, it should make it easier for them to manage such situations, and successfully move on to the next stage of their life.

All this seems to suggest that stress management should be part of everyone’s education. I’ve had a meditation expert visit my classes several times, but missed out last year because of COVID. It seems like it’s time to bring him back…

source: StudyFinds

71 thoughts on “Dear Young People: Choose Your First Job Carefully

  1. I totally agree about the importance of teaching young people how to handle stress. Stress definitely plays a big role in heart problems!
    Though genetics play a big role too, especially in our family.

    You should bring Tippy in as a guest speaker for your class on meditation, didn’t he write a book about that?? 😉

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, but why and how does that have such a big effect years later? My suspicious nature thinks that other factors also might be responsible, and knowing how the effect works would probably have many other applications too. I’m not sure that physical exercise in early adulthood alone would result in better cardio health 20 years later.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Perhaps if people are able to establish good habits early on, you are more likely to continue those good habits later in life.

        But I see your point; there are a lot of factors that affect one’s health at an older age…

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I certainly wish someone had prepared me for handling stress as it was not something I was ever good at. And these days I think stress levels for young people are much higher than in my day. I think they should teach yoga starting in elementary school onwards. I believe there has been limited studies or testing of this. If not, there should be. It would go a long way towards stress management.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Stress is the great equalizer as far as health goes. I have been sick for all about two days in five years. Before that, my track record was decent when I was young, but as the stress continued to increase and the pounds crept on, my health kept deteriorating. The good news is that we can regroup if we have the self-discipline and commitment to love ourselves.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think part of the problem is the accepted patenting technique of insuring our kids never face any stress or negativity when they are young. Suddenly, they are thrust into an adult world full of such things and have learned very few coping skills. It may be impossible to avoid stress, but you can always learn to handle it better, assuming you are exposed to it at a time when there are those to offer counsel.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. great point, Brad. Just like it is good to establish a strong work ethic at a young age, I think it is important to establish some stress management techniques at a young age as well. And you are right, it is best to do so when you have an available support system, such as family and school…

      Liked by 3 people

  5. A little stress at that age is necessary or the child won’t leave the home and head out on his or her own. There is stress that comes with each decision, and some can impact a life forever – job, marriage, etc. Oftentimes these seem like inconsequential decisions at the time, and they are often made on an immediate need basis like should I move in with my boyfriend who I’m visiting out of town or come back to my home town because I just got the news I got a job interview. There are so many factors that go into determining our cardiovascular health at any age, I’d want to see more data. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the immediate needs of every day, but especially when you’re a kid. Going to college slows that immediacy down and allows kids to process their choices both for jobs and for a spouse. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. well said, Marsha. I think it is important to learn how to handle stress, the sooner the better. And while there is value in learning from our mistakes, there is also value in avoiding those mistakes, especially the big ones. And you are right, there are many factors that impact our heart health, stress being just one of them…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It is an interesting theory. A lot of things are in place to slow down the impetuousness of youth. education is one of them Their frontal lobes aren’t completely in tact and they make rash decisions – like having sex, getting married, using drugs, fighting, causes ie riots – all of which they think will make them grown up, but greatly impact their health at a later date. So in my opinion it’s better to give them some artificial and healthy stressors – which activities to be involved in, how to meet deadlines for their assignments, etc.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. What a great idea to have a meditation expert join your class! I’ve always felt like more job places need to incorporate a piece of real, tangible wellness to their work culture… Not just say it but do it.. And I don’t mean just a retreat once a year for team building but like you did, bring in a meditation expert and wellness coaches etc.

    As I’ve aged, I’ve quickly noticed how stress can really hinder one’s growth, mental wellness and health. It’s important to address it early on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. the students really enjoyed having the class on meditation. plus, anything is better than talking about accounting! 🙂

      and I agree, stress management is a critical life skill that should be taught, the sooner the better…

      Liked by 2 people

  7. interesting. my school decided to pay early career teachers more than they had, and having them way a long time to work their way up the pay ladder, realizing that they had so much stress at the beginning and to worry about finances would only cause more stress. it has been a wonderful initiative –

    Liked by 2 people

      1. it really makes sense, many have recently completed school, paying back loans, maybe having changed careers, finding somewhere to live and get settled or moving into the real adult and independent stage of their lives

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Relevant topic! I feel blessed with being in fairly good health at 65. I can now see where my career choice and its inevitable journey helped me to avoid too much stress. Hindsight is always 20/20. Your students will benefit from more input about this.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I have stepped back over the past year, Jim, from a work perspective. I had very high blood pressure last year from all the stress and overwork. I am enforcing my reduced hours as much as possible now and I have an assistant at last.

        Liked by 1 person

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