By Rosie Mitchener

I started working in the financial services industry when I was nineteen. It was there where I experienced first-hand the flak young people often cop in the workplace.

“You remind me of my daughter.”

“You did a good job, especially for someone so young.”

“Oh don’t worry you wouldn’t understand, that was well before your time.”

“Young people want everything now, but they’re not willing to put the work in.”

While some of these comments frustrated me, they also made me hungry. I was determined to change the perception of young people in the workplace; that we DO know how to work hard and DON’T just want immediate recognition without putting in the work first.

It’s no surprise that tension between younger and older generations in the workforce is not a new phenomenon, however it’s important to recognise that it impacts almost 75% of all organisations.

So, as young professionals, what can we do to set ourselves apart from the rest and combat the negative stereotypes that get put upon us?

Personal branding

Remember your primary school teachers telling you to not judge a book by its cover? Well, when it comes to the workplace, your primary school teachers could not be more wrong. First impressions count.

And as a young person, it’s extremely important to ensure that your physical and digital presence (yes, that includes your Insty) is in tip-top shape. If that means doing an audit of your social media accounts or waking up early to iron your uniform, then just do it.

Although you might not think so, your colleagues will notice the little things. So, rock up early, work hard, be authentic, speak positively and make the effort.

You’ve only got one shot to make a good impression, so make it count .

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From inexperienced to driven

Young people often get branded with the ‘inexperienced’ label, and hey, for the most part, we are inexperienced. However one of the most important things I’ve learnt in the workplace is that no matter how old you are, you never stop learning.

So, if you’ve been given new responsibility but don’t exactly have the skill set to do it- don’t fret. The best thing that you can do is mimic good leaders around you.

Seek out the people in your workplace who can either show you by example or teach you the new skills required. People respect people who are willing to learn , and finding someone who can mentor you will set you miles ahead of the game.

“By viewing ourselves as works in progress, we multiply our capacity to learn, avoid being pigeonholed, and ultimately become better leaders. We’re never too experienced to fake it till we learn it.”

 

–  Herminia Ibarra,

Harvard Business Review 

To get where you want to go it will take hard work, dedication and perseverance. Seize every opportunity to learn a new skill or take on a new challenge.

Although moments of self-doubt (and doubt from others) are a given, it’s important to remember that age is not a barrier to hard work and success.

So, rock up early, work hard, be authentic, speak positively and make the effort.

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