October 31, 2007

The Age Factor

Posted in Careers tagged , , , at 8:58 pm by Katelyn

Lately, age has become a real issue with me.  I know why, I’m just not sure how to make it less of one.  I believe the reason it is usually at the forefront of my mind is because I have very little interaction with people my age – people in their 20s.  My 40-hour work week puts me in constant interaction with people twice my age, as does another organization I belong to.  I know that you can learn a lot from others with more life experience, and I do learn a lot, but lately I have only been able to notice the differences and those differences seem to be building a wall that hinders communication. 

1.  The Knowledge Difference:  Not only do their references to pop culture from the 70s and 80s leave me clueless and speechless, but their constant references to events and “the way things used to be” at the company make it extremely difficult to break into the club.

2.  The Mommy Difference:  In my department alone, I think I am 1 of 2 employees who do not have children and I don’t even want to think about that ratio for the entire company.  This factor in itself creates a communication gap.  How do you relate to or share your weekend experiences with a colleague who spends her evenings doing her kids’ homework and her mornings watching cartoons.

3.  The Technology Difference:  This is the biggest difference I see.  Being in a company where so many of the employees did not grow up or enter the workforce with computers, their lack of knowledge becomes a huge barrier for work efficiency and communication.  Even though I may be more knowledgable when it comes to computers, my rank does not allow me to be an advocate for mandatory upgrading of employee knowledge and skills!

I think this all boils down to my feeling that there is a lack of respect (at least in my current experiences) for people of a younger age.  I couldn’t possibly be wise beyond my years, make sound decisions for my life and for my job, or be uncharacteristically knowledgeable with skills unrecognized.  How do I make them look past my youth and look at me?  Or better yet, how do I use my youth to command respect?

~DC

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