Millennials vs. The World
3 tips for navigating age biased workplaces
When you’re a recent college graduate, graphic designer, and introvert you dream of one thing (or at least, I dreamt of one thing…) Gaining employment in my field and blissfully designing “cool stuff” in the back corner of an office, where I would never be bothered by people or the outside world. In some ways, my dream came true. I’m now a 21-year-old creative director and for the most part, my day-to-day tasks involve designing “cool stuff” in my corner, parking lot view cubicle.
What I didn’t account for was:
A. Having to develop my own management style and delegating tasks to “junior designers” (who were actually older than me).
B. Learning to work with many different personalities and bridging generational gaps.
1. Learn your co-workers communication style
Everyone has a preferred method of communication. Mine is through text because if I’m upset I can easily regulate my tone and positioning and think about what I’m going to say before sending a memo. When working in a generationally divided workplace be prepared to change your communication methods frequently. If someone prefers phone conversations over email, you have to adapt. Don’t expect your 60-year-old boss to be the one willing to learn Slack, instead learn others’ working habits, communication preferences, and adapt to them for the most effective communication.
2. Use biases to your advantage
“Millennials are lazy, entitled, and always on their phones.” -Every article ever
Ah so true, however I like to consider myself efficient, not lazy. I determine how to complete a project in the least amount of steps possible, which I’ve found extremely helpful working in a fast-paced, agency environment. Because my Gen X co-workers assume I will complete tasks slowly, I’m very often commended when I get the job done much faster than anticipated. In terms of entitlement, this can be a strength (to a certain extent) when performance review time comes. Maintain a level of confidence and don’t be afraid to ask for a raise if you feel you are providing the company with great work in a timely manner.
3. Prove yourself + disregard your age
Being a young professional, expect to be put in the situation of having to prove yourself time and time again. You’re expected not to perform well and be easily distracted in the workplace, so instead of using this as an excuse to underperform, use it to your advantage and go above and beyond what’s asked of you.
It can be extremely difficult to navigate an entry-level job in your field and you will often dream of quitting to become a barista (Definitely a pipe dream of mine) because it’s easier. Remember that you’ve just spent four years gaining technical skill in a field that you love and you’re probably also in debt. Stick out your job and learn to adapt. You won’t be an entry-level worker forever, consider your job a constant learning experience and you won’t be disappointed.