Millennials learn to answer the dreaded question: 'So... what do you do?'

Tik Root | GlobalPost

MIDDLEBURY, Vermont — Everyone gets the question eventually. The asker may employ a slightly different tone, inflection or wording but will inevitably get to the point: “So... what do you do?”

For America’s young people – almost 6 million of whom are neither studying nor employed – the answer is often far from simple.

“It's a question that is expecting a really pithy answer of 'occupation — insert here,’” said Ava Kerr, a 2012 graduate of Middlebury College who is now living in New Orleans and has found enough part-time work — at both an afterschool program and a children’s museum — to barely make ends meet. “It's like Mad Libs. But the real explanation is much longer.”

Across the world, 12.6 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 areunemployed; nearly triple the rate for those over 24. This is forcing youth everywhere to wrestle with the day-to-day challenges of being out of work. One of these difficulties, though less apparent than paying bills or getting food on the table, is handling the common questions about what they do and, implicitly, where they fit in society.