Many interns and recent college grads may feel like babies in suits at their jobs. Sure, we’re technically adults, but we can feel like kids compared to our co-workers who may be twice our age. Not everyone is in their 20’s, not everyone eats Ramen or stays up until 2 o’clock in the morning, and not everyone thinks like we do.
I’ve been there. Most of my public relations experience comes from working for a college media organization. That means the people I work with and for are my age. I was thrown for curve ball when I entered a corporate internship this past summer. I don’t know who found this statistic, but it was determined that the average age of someone working there was 51 years old. That’s older than my parents!
This was intimidating at first. However, I learned a ton and thrived. You can too with a few helpful hints!
1. Realize that your co-workers have much more to teach you than you could ever learn in a textbook. These people have been in the business for a long time and have more information than you could ever imagine. Learn from them and soak up the knowledge!
2. BUT, don’t be afraid to share your ideas and new perspectives. Your opinions and ideas are also valuable. Don’t remain quiet if you think something could be done in a better way. You’ll never grow if you don’t try new things.
3. Never let yourself or anyone else underestimate you because of your age. Don’t put yourself down by thinking that you’re too young or inexperienced to do something. You’ll only miss out on great opportunities. It’s just as important to not let co-workers or clients underestimate your abilities because of your age. You were hired for your position for a reason. If anyone gives you trouble for being young, talk to a supervisor or a trusted manager about it.
4. People love feeling needed, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Starting any new position, there are going to be learning curves. You don’t know everything, so don’t pretend. Those “old people” you work for… yeah, they’re higher up in the company because they’ve worked for it, and they’ve gained a lot of knowledge along the way. They may have “tricks of the trade” that can be helpful to you.
5. Change is constant, but our desire to change is sometimes nonexistent. It can be helpful for a company to have a young employee. After a couple of years, people can get comfortable in the routine of the way things have always been. Sometimes, organizations with long-time employees may have a hard time adapting when their company changes. Share your recent experiences of taking on your new position to show how change can be exciting!
The next time you feel like a baby in a suit, remember that you have great teachers surrounding you. Don’t be afraid to let older, more experienced co-workers guide you. At the same time, never underestimate what you have to bring to the table!
Ally Coonradt – Harrisburg Intern – Fall 2015