One of the interesting things about being in higher education right out of college is being the youngest in the office. It makes sense that a lot of people right out their degrees are usually the baby of the office. For those of us who are, there are certain things that we deal with because of it. For one, there is always a fear of not being taken seriously. Unfortunately, our society has an idea that young people don’t know what they are doing and should start by doing the dirty work needed. While we know we have a lot to learn, we can provide a new perspective than those who have been working in the business for a long time. Many careers are changing drastically due to economic, technological and societal changes. Young individuals grew as these changes did, but sometimes, it can be difficult to share your ideas on advancement and growth when people don’t take you seriously. As a millennial, I’ve heard all of the comments about us being lazy and not taking life seriously. That we’re entitled and too sensitive. I don’t believe in that necessarily. While there are people who live up to that reputation, but there is in every generation. We grew up in a different time and there are positives and negatives to that. I believe that as a generation, we are more open minded, compassionate as well as entrepreneurial. We grew up in hard times and are coming into adulthood where it is hard to make enough money to live comfortably right out of undergraduate. We grew up dependent on technology. We are addicted to it but we can see how to use it to our advantage, personally and professionally. It can be hard for someone who has been in a field for a long time to see that we can be taken seriously in our fields. Some have prospered but some have not. Some have embraced the changes millennials are bringing to the workforce but a lot are not. I think that it is difficult sometimes to speak up because there is a fear of rejection and embarrassment.
For a millennial working in higher education, I have an interesting challenge. Not only am I the youngest in the workforce, the students that I oversee are very close in age to me. Some are even older. So I have a circumstance where there are times I fear I am not being taken seriously from my co-workers or the students I work with. It causes me a lot of anxiety and stress, especially when I would like things to change but don’t feel like I can make that change. Thankfully, I do work with people who are open to my suggestions and allowing me to grow in that environment. However, there are many times where clients that I work with do not think that I have any authority in my role. There are countless times where someone asks “Can I speak to someone in charge” and when I respond, they mostly ask for a professional staff member and not a student. Well guess what, I am a professional staff member. And I’m the one in charge. There are so many emotions that go through my head from frustrated, disappointed, and then worried that I will never be taken seriously. I think this is the biggest challenge that I have in my current role and it probably will be for a while. This is something that I know I struggle with and many other people my age struggle with. Hopefully, as we grow older, we can relate to those younger than us coming into the job market and allow them to thrive and grow in their new transition of life.