Just like being a freshman in college, being the youngest in the office is an unavoidable rite of passage. When you are an intern or a fresher, expect to be younger than everyone else by several years up to several decades.
Here are some situations you may encounter as the youngest in the office:
1. You are the tech support for the office.
“How do I install Facebook on my smartphone?”
“Can you connect the new printer to our network?”
Because we have grown up with technology, we are probably the most comfortable with it than the others in the office (unless they are in IT).
Be helpful and let your knowledge shine. Your knowledge of the latest technology and social media networks are advantages that your older coworkers do not have. Not only will you earn goodwill, you will also establish a reputation for being a team player. Make sure that your main priorities don’t suffer as a result though.
Your coworkers will be giving you lots of help in your first months. Return the favour by helping them with a few of their IT problems
Of course, if the problem is something too advanced for you, you need to speak up.
2. You don’t understand half of what happens in meetings.
The 45-minute weekly team meetings I had at my first internship felt more draining than a full day of work. There was so much to absorb, from jargon to learning how the team operated, that my brain would be mush by the end.
When you are new, don’t be afraid to interrupt and ask questions in team meetings. There is no reason to sit for 20 minutes, wondering what an acronym is. Write down notes and any follow up questions you have to answer.
3. Your coworker (who is your peer) starts delegating menial tasks to you and treating you like a secretary.
You may be the youngest, but you shouldn’t be expected be at the whim of everyone. In this case, you should approach your manager and say, “Bob has been asking me to do his data entry and photocopying for him a lot lately. I’m spending several hours a week on these tasks and not on projects X, Y, and Z. Do I need to shift my focus to help Bob?”
Phrasing your question this way will show that you need help with prioritizing your tasks, not with Bob himself. Your manager may not be aware that this is happening and will ask Bob to stop. Or you may find out that Bob needs to focus on an even bigger project, so you need to help him out.
4. You are not taken seriously.
This will feel very demoralizing, but don’t be discouraged! Whenever you start out in a new group or community, you need to build your reputation. Even when professionals start a new job, they need to do the same.
To build your reputation and earn respect, you need to deliver on your promises, listen and ask questions more than you talk, and respect
You have lots of ideas that you believe would benefit the business – without understanding why things are done the way it is, your organization’s business goals, and the resources available, you will look out of touch with reality. Ask question, research, build a solid proposal
You should also check out:
The Social Network | 4 Reasons why you need to know the people you work with!
5 things you must do while you’re still in college.
The 5 types of people you meet in your final year