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I Thought You'd Be Older: Life As A Career-Driven Millennial

I Thought You'd Be Older: Life As A Career-Driven Millennial

I manage the internship program at the company where I work. I was once in the same program. I invest a lot of time in my interns, many of whom are older than me.

"I thought you'd be older," were the first words uttered by one of my previous interns when they first met me in person. (We ran the interviews over the phone because she was coming from out of state for the summer).

I shrugged it off with a laugh and a handshake, but the interaction has stuck with me, months later. I should have said, "Nope, I'm just more driven than you thought."

[Related: My Secrets to Resilience]

I do well at work and move up the ladder quickly because I work my ass off. I work my ass off because I care about what I do and take pride in improving myself and impressing my bosses and clients. Working hard is fun for me and trying new things is a passion . My success is just the side effect of doing both of those things at the same time.

I tell all my interns who ask about how I landed a job at my small public relations agency the same thing, "Solve a problem we didn't know exist."

When I was an intern I was constantly sharing ideas and solutions to the challenges I saw my supervisors facing. When I became an assistant, I did the work of an account coordinator whenever possible. When I was an account coordinator, I volunteered to take on account executive tasks. Now as a junior account executive, I reflect the actions of senior executives but with my own insights and twist for process improvement.

I hope that intern, who is just two years older than me, left my internship program with enough experience, intellect and inspiration that she is also greeted with surprise by potential employers who expected someone somehow more "aged" based off the competence she displayed.

Standing out from the pack sometimes puts a target on your back or can put you in positions you're unfamiliar with. I often suffer the infamous "imposter syndrome," or find myself thinking, "I can't do that."

[Related: Lead Like A Girl: How To Empower Women At Every Level]

When you are faced with those feelings of self-doubt, that when you know you are doing exactly what you should be. If you think you can or cannot do something shouldn't matter, just know that you are going to give it your all and do your best. Instead of focusing on the doubts of those who have low expectations of you, ground yourself in the expectations you have for yourself and deliver noteworthy results.

I've also learned to carry myself in a manner appropriate to my position. While slightly patronizing, I recently heard from a female CEO that I respect and had worked with in the past, that I've "really grown up."

By filling the roles you take, you grow into them. Take risks, see holes you can fill and always search for opportunity. Fear is a sign that you're doing it right. 

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Community Discussion
Jessica Mendoza

Great post. As one of the youngest managers in my company I can relate to this. There is about a 7-10 year gap from my department to others and we're the youngest and also one of the most-driven ones. I have encountered that not everyone trust us right away but once they see our efforts and involvement in larger company-wide initiatives they start to pay attention. Thank you for sharing.

October 12, 2015