Being the Baby of the Workplace: How to Overcome the Age Problem
Work + Life Balance

Being the Baby of the Workplace: How to Overcome the Age Problem

by Griffin Hill
Photos Kim Le | May 15, 2015

BEING THE YOUNGEST PERSON IN THE OFFICE ISN'T A LIABILITY; IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY.

To climb to the top of any field, you usually have to start at the bottom. It’s inevitable that, at some point, all of us will “pay our dues” in the workplace.

For the lucky ones, they are thrown into an environment where they are encouraged, supported, and mentored. But, for most of us, being the baby of the workplace is an uncomfortable transition between childhood and “the real world”, where we are met with skepticism and criticism, often because of our age and inexperience.

Related: 6 Strategies for Handling Workplace Criticism Like a Champ

When you are faced with the reality of being the youngest person in your company, there is only one way to overcome the resistance you may encounter from your employer and/or coworkers: you must view it as an opportunity for growth rather than a period of punishment. {Click to tweet}

There is only one way to overcome the resistance you may encounter from your employer or coworkers: you must view it as an opportunity for growth rather than a period of punishment.

It’s easy to get into the mindset that you just have to keep your head down and never have a real impact until you have been promoted or do your time. But this is a waste of your specific talents and the perspective that only you can bring to the table. 

If you’re the baby of your workplace, here are three quick and easy perspective shifts that can turn your presence in your company into one of value. 

DON'T MAKE EXCUSES

More than likely, there will be someone who wants to correct you. It might even be a coworker who just graduated from the “baby” role themselves, and they feel the need to haze someone else through the entry-level experience. 

When you mess up, as everyone does in a new job, don’t make excuses. Listen humbly, even if you aren’t being shown a great deal of respect in return, and answer respectfully. Digest the critique, and never place blame. 

Related: How to Recover From a Work Mistake

Making excuses makes you appear weak, whereas showing respect makes it difficult for anyone to speak negatively about you in the future. 

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES 

When you receive constructive criticism, learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them. 

Demonstrating a willingness and capacity to learn will leave a positive impression on the people around you. Learning from your mistakes is a skill that even the most experienced employee can lack, so utilizing this skillset at a young age will show wisdom beyond your years.

Learning from your mistakes is a skill that even the most experienced employee can lack, so utilizing this skillset at a young age will show wisdom beyond your years.

LEVERAGE YOUR EXPERIENCE

If you are coming right out of college into a new career, it can be easy to minimize your experience. Maybe you held a leadership position in your sorority or university organization, but you don’t feel like that is a valid source of experience to bring to your new job. Don't kid yourself! If you learned leadership skills and relationship skills in another area of life, use what you have already learned in your new workplace. 

Related: How to Use Your Internship Experience to Get a Full-Time Job

Don’t be embarrassed by your age, and don't let someone else’s skepticism make you feel like you need to apologize for your lack of experience. Leverage what experience you do have to bring unique value to your company. {Click to tweet}

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Remember that someone had confidence in you and placed you in your current role, and let that motivate you to take the reins of your career. Yes, you may be young, inexperienced, and very different than the people you work with, but let that be an asset to you. 

You have a unique perspective that only you can offer, so offer it. Share it. Be humble and learn, but be willing to assert yourself when the time is right. 

The age problem will always be a factor, but learn to use it to your advantage, and the whole company will benefit. Remember that people associate age with immaturity, so give them a reason to see you in a different light.