Employment today at $7.25/hr ($14,000+/year) is a travesty of incompetent economic management.
"That's kind of what it was like then," :Ms. Sulatycki, 28, recalls. "[The job market] was definitely challenging, and especially since I was at a career pivot point, Ididn't have a lot of previous experience and that's what employers were looking for."
Ms. Sulatycki's experience reflects much of the hopelessness many Canadian youth face in today's labour market. Job prospects for young Canadians continue to diminish, with larch's unemployment rate for people between the ages of l5 and 24 at 14.2% - nearly double the national average of 7.2%.
What's more, a recent TD Economics report released this year said that the loss of tens of thousands of youth jobs during the recession will cost Canadians $23.1-billion in lost wages for the next 18 years.
Yet some twenty somethings are much more optimistic about the future than what the headlines portray - and they are demonstrating that by veering into the entrepreneurial fast lane.
Toronto-based Ms. Sulatycki, for one, said that not having a job worked in her favour. Being unemployed allowed her more time and freedom to focus on starting up Stylehawk, a social shopping app, soon after graduation.
"Had I found work, I probably would have started this on the side and it might have grown slower, or taken a different route," Ms. Sulatycki said.
No mortgage, no children, the ability to be mobile
Stylehawk, which launched on the Canadian App Store last December, now features 19 retailers including The Bay. Sephora and Roots.The app is designed to act like a mall
directory, where users can enter stores, browse items, and identify whether they 'have: 'share: or 'buy' it.
For Ms. Sulatycki, who also holds an undergraduate materials engineering degree from University of Alberta, Stylehawk and entrepreneur ship has allowed her to pursue her dream early in her career.
"Stylehawk evolved from my desire to be able to walk into a store, and then hear, 'Hi Krystina, your changeroom is ready for you. We took the liberty of picking up a few things: and then I'll just go and try them on, Ms Sulatycki said
"That's what I'd like shopping to be like. I'm trying to give retailers an opportunity to personalize a customer's shopping experience."
The 22-year-old, for example, said her decision to become an entrepre neur had little to do with today's job market difficulties, and everything to do with the "popularizing concept of being at the prime of your life, when you're super, super able to tolerate risk."
In other words: No mortgage, nochildren and the ability to be mobile. Ms. Wu was selected for the Next 36 program, a "startup boot camp" for promising Canadian undergradu ates, where, she helped create Penyo Pal with $50,000 seed money and a team of three other students in the program.
"The entrepreneurial community in Toronto and Canada has been im proving. Just five years ago, it wasn't common for high school or univer sity students to want to jump into a startup," Ms.Wu said.
"Now, I find I'm having this conversation multiple times with other friends -even those who have jobs in big corporations."
Likewise, 22-year-old Phil Jacob son turned down a few job offers in brand management at big-name cor porations when he graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University's under graduate business administration program last year. He opted to focus his full-time attention on PumpUp, a personalized workout app he co founded with University of Waterloo student Garrett Gottlieb in 201L
"The way things worked out for me, it was just a matter of finding a right fit," Mr. Jacobson said. "But I could definitely see I wasn't able to get a job, I'd think about doing something on my own or pursue working for a smaller startup."
At the same time, for many twenty something entrepreneurs, youth can also be a hindrance. With little or no professional experience behind them, they have to hustle to prove themselves.
"We lack a track record. Beyond Penyo Pal, no one knows what we can do," Ms. Wu said, adding that it is especially difficult when trying to raise funding.
Despite the challenges, Ms . Sulatycki said it would be hard to swap her entrepreneurial passion to work fo r someone else. "Maybe in the right environment, if it involved what I'm passionate about -strategic environment, Iwould be open to it,"she said. "But I'm also very happy working for myself now.
By April Fong
April 8, 2013