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Being Young & Confident at Work February 17, 2013

Filed under: Young Professional — thisgirlsarah @ 7:15 PM
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I don’t always quote Cosmopolitan magazine. In fact, I never have in my life, but this isn’t about makeup and hair, I promise. I was reading my February issue and saw an article titled, “Can Looking Too Young Hurt You at Work?” by Marissa Hermanson. I was surprised that the byline didn’t list my own name because I felt like Marissa was reading my mind.

I recently returned from a week long company-wide meeting in which my age came up at least once a day with various people. My line is always: “Someone has to be the baby of the company, might as well be me!” (cue a great big smile).

Fresh out of college, I feel blessed to be doing exactly what I want for a reputable company. During my interview for this position, I was flat out told that I was the least experienced and youngest applicant they had seen. Why should they pick me?

We have to know what we have to offer and prove again and again that we are (or can be) an asset to the company. The truth is that no one that was teasing me about my age could do what I do. It takes a young person, a millennial who has grown up with social media, to do the job successfully. I have a leg up on my elder counter-parts BECAUSE of my age, but that doesn’t make it any easier to interact with people who see you as inexperienced and young.

My conversations this week weren’t implying that I was too young to do my job, but that doesn’t lift the insecurities I feel sitting in meetings or sharing ideas. It’s still intimidating to be the least experienced/youngest in the room.

I was hired to do a job and was deemed the best candidate to accomplish the job; I must remember that. During our annual meeting we were asked to create a professional development plan for ourselves. I wrote: Be an asset. I have tasked myself with the responsibility to continue learning about the industry, both public relations and my company’s industry. Staying on top of my game increases my co-worker’s confidence in me as well as my confidence in myself.

When it’s all said and done, I just have to remember that someday I’ll appreciate being asked, “Can you even drink?” “Why yes I can, but thank you for underestimating how old I am.” It’s like how as a 21-year-old you don’t want anyone to ask for your ID because you want to look older, but when you realize they actually have stopped asking, you miss it.

For all you twenty-somethings with feelings similar to mine, remember your confidence carries you. You might be young, you might be insecure, but they picked you and you have to own your skills and be an asset to the team.

Before I go, here’s one last Cosmo shout out. Career coach, Rachel A. Keener, wrote these 5 ways to be taken seriously at work:

  1. Consolidate your thoughts-Write one coherent email instead of several short ones.
  2. Sit front and center.
  3. Unplug at key moments- like meetings.
  4. Speak high to low-avoid sounding like you are asking a question.
  5. Volunteer to lead.

Does your age impact your work positively or negatively?


2 Responses to “Being Young & Confident at Work”

  1. Danielle Says:

    Tough, tough subject. It can go either way – espeically in our field.

    Some of the people I meet think I’m good at my job BECAUSE I am young – which I hate. I’m good at my job because I’m smart, I’m passionate about it, I understand it, I’ve worked hard, I keep learning, etc. Not because I’m in a certain generation that had computers our whole lives (in fact, I did NOT have a computer my whole life! I remember getting our first!).

    And there are others who, I think, notice my age all too much. I’ve heard the comments ‘they grow up so fast!’ ‘she’s old enough to be our daughter’ etc. I’ve had people present ‘advice’ to me in a condesending tone. It is something that has to be one your mind. I try to avoid cultural references that note my age, I go out of my way to dress/act professional when meeting with clients/new business.

    Of course, there are others, probably the majority that it has no effect on whatsoever. Those people are the best 🙂

    • Definitely, Danielle! I agree that if we act professional, there is no reason for it to come up. Except when people feel the need to tease us, of course. Someday it will end and we’ll miss it, I’m sure!

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