What It’s Like Being the Youngest Boss in Your Biz

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How much should age play a role in your job?

As some of you might know from this blog post, I recently started writing Career Contessa. My first article was recently published on their site! You can read it here (which I recommend so you can see the fancy layout), but I am also going to copy it below.

I pitched this article topic to my editor because I found myself in a unique situation when I began my full-time salaried position at the tender age of 20. I felt that there was a lack of mentorship, and I had to figure things out for myself. My hope is that this article will start the conversation for other young adults to come forward and share their experiences about being the youngest executive at the table.

Enjoy this syndicated piece from Career Contessa

NOW MORE THAN EVER, WOMEN ARE UNABASHEDLY AMBITIOUS, USING THEIR STRONG DRIVE TO QUICKLY ASCEND THE CORPORATE LADDERS. 

We’re starting young, we’re climbing quickly, and we’re a totally new kind of working demographic. When you’re driven to get ahead sooner rather than later, there’s a high probability you’ll look around one day and realize you’re the youngest person in the room.

This certainly held true for me. By the time I completed my undergraduate degree, I’d already invested two years working with my company—and so I walked out of college with an offer for an executive management position. Suddenly, I was 20-years-old and leading a team of 230 employees, many of whom had been working longer than I had been alive.

It felt weird and—dare I say?—wrong to be so much younger than the people I was managing. Did I let that stop me? Of course not. But here are five realizations that allowed me to embrace my position as the youngest boss in the room.

MY SUPERIORS TRUSTED ME

Starting my new position, I was worried that limited life experiences would preclude me from earning the respect and confidence of the team I led. The best career advice ever imparted to me was actually pretty simple: Give your managers the same trust they give you. Once you realize that your bosses would never put you in a role they didn’t believe you could fill, you won’t be afraid to tap into your full potential.

Once you realize that your bosses would never put you in a role they didn’t believe you could fill, you won’t be afraid to tap into your full potential.

I WORKED HARD TO GET WHERE I AM

I was the youngest of my executive group by a minimum of 10 years, and I got there so quickly because I had been seriously busting my butt to achieve specific goals from an early age. Don’t let anyone make you feel unworthy of your success. You aced the interviews, you put in the long hours, and you met the sales goals and deadlines. You deserve to reap the benefits of your hard work without guilt.

I BROUGHT A FRESH PERSPECTIVE

Try thinking less about your age as a number and more about what it allows you to uniquely contribute to your team. Your age might be an invaluable asset, helping propel your company into more technologically advanced capabilities. Use your knowledge of Google Docs, search engine optimization, mining Big Data, and the inner workings of Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to give you an even greater competitive edge at work.

PEOPLE ASSUMED I WAS OLDER

It wasn’t until I was celebrating a birthday during a workday that I realized my team generally thought I was about five years older than was true. And although the initial shock of being called 26 on my 21st birthday was a little jarring, I was pleased to learn that my team recognized my maturity. The take-away was this: people assume you are the age you act, so act the age you want to be perceived as.

Try thinking less about your age as a number and more about what it allows you to uniquely contribute to your team.

I WAS THE ONLY ONE CONCERNED WITH MY AGE

At the end of the day, I was the only one focused on my age. As long as you are completing your work and doing it well, no one else cares how young you are.

You can’t change your age, and, honestly, why would you want to? You should be proud of all you achieved at such a young age, so go out and own it! In fact, your young age might be one of the things your team most respects about you. At the very least, my bosses and coworkers could always count on a good laugh from my blank stares at the mention of Hogan’s Heroes or Kimba the White Lion.

-TM

What tips do you have for being the youngest boss in your business? Let us know below!

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