“You’re not old enough to say something like that.”
“Before we move ahead, how old are you exactly?”
“You’re in your 20s’! That’s it?”
“When you talk it doesn’t seem like you’re a 20-something.”
To be honest, these questions are just as irritating as asking for my sexual preferences while I’m just signing up on a platform that shares comic strips. Like, come on!
Yes, I have been one of the youngest in my class – school and college, and the companies I subsequently worked for. The problem is, I can’t go back in time and decide when I need to be born to be taken more seriously – more adult like in this corporate world.
Personally, I don’t mind being the baby of the house but work? Back off.
This post might come across as a personal rant or a mere grudge against someone specific but believe me, it is for all those biggies out there who sit with years of experience under their belts, slowly judging and downsizing the younger ones.
I started working right after my graduation – young blood, young moolah – as they call it. With eagerness to step into this big bad corporate world to make a living of my own, I almost immediately regretted my decision. There were times I would come home frustrated because someone I was supposed to report to was being an ass – with all due respect.
Something didn’t work out? Blame it on the youngest one.
Something needs a boost? Give it to the youngest one, he/she is brimming with new ideas!
Someone needs to be removed? Go ahead, take out the youngest one; doesn’t even have as many years of experience in the field.
I have just one thing to say to people functioning on this mantra – REALLY, NOW?
It’s been almost 3 years working in the industry and I still encounter this supreme irritating question at every interview I give, every client meeting I host, every time some chaos occurs, every time something needs to be worked on and of course, every time someone needs new ideas!
This isn’t just about me. In these years of working full time, I have worked for startups through and through; seen the culture they claim to deliver, the amount of work they expect from ‘young blood’, the credit they actually give and the stability that is more often than not, not even mentioned while recruiting someone new.
Why? Because, how old will these recruitees be? 22? 23?
Here’s another question for all those who think we are just some 20-something group of freaks who have decided to work because we need the money to party and shop – Do you really think we are that desperate?
Colleges, coaching institutes, etc; for that matter, a lot many educational blogs are focusing on encouraging students to take up their ‘interests’ as a career choice – not because they have nothing better to do. Such practice is being promoted across the world to ensure that when one graduates, he gets the right footing in the corporate world – the one that peaks his interest and not demoralizes it to extinction.
If age is to be considered as a big factor during hiring, discussions of pay packages and the type of work expected, there are just 2 obvious scenarios that come to my mind:
- The 20-something – brimming with new ideas, enthusiastic, competitive and also often, underpaid, overworked and easily chucked out.
- The biggie – usually late 20s’ or 30+ people who have earned a considerable living for running their families, choose to work a set number of hours only, have exhausted their ideas, usually content with their positions and generally the ones who are retained.
Just because someone is a 20-something, he/she doesn’t know his work enough to be paid a decent amount for the atrocious hours of work? Does being a 20-something mean that if a 30-something thinks the work is not good enough (even though it is), it is not? Does it mean that the credit has to go to those biggies of your company when a small ‘good job’ to the 20-something would have been really moralising?
Having worked with clients from across the world, I have noticed that it is more typical of the Indian subcontinent to equate maturity with age – even in terms of work. It is a common practise to promise a certain sum for a certain period, extract the maximum and in a very foxy fashion, build new plans on the foundation laid by the so-called ‘amateur’ employee – being pleasantly surprised at the freshness of ideas and startled at why they never occurred to them, and yet, never acknowledging any.
If you’re good at something, what has age got to do with it?
Have you had an experience like this where your work is undermined just because of your age?
For the next time though –
Don’t let enthusiasm blur the essential checklist each newcomer needs to be aware of; such as transparency in employment policies – long/short/project based, payments and increments, add-ons and incentives, and above all, a sense of security.
Personally, I freelance now. There are people from all over the world who recognise me despite my difficult name and consider my work ‘brilliant’ and not just good. I am not someone who would go on and on about what I do or how good I am at my job, but some experiences force you to.
Those who have an issue with my age or doubt my capabilities even for a minute, I now politely ask them to find someone who they think is ‘better than me’, while I go about doing my job the way I do it!
After all, it all boils down to loving what you do and not letting someone sow the sour seeds of discouragement in your path.