Being the youngest person at the office requires a good sense of balance. You need to be enough of a go-getter to defy the lazy millennial stereotype, but not so much of a yes-person that it looks like you’re just sucking up to the managers.
You’ll also probably be called on–or not–for specific tasks. Not all twenty-somethings are great with technology, but people will probably ask you for help when the Internet goes down anyway.
Here are some situations you might run into as the youngest one in the office and how to best solve them.
1. People Don’t Take Your Ideas Seriously
It’s disappointing to come up with a great idea, only to have it get shot down in the meeting. After all, what could you possibly know, right?
Instead of taking your ideas straight to the top, figure out who might be most willing to listen to you. This could be anyone from a co-worker who’s been around longer than you, to someone who’s involved in a project but not leading it. Having backup is key because it shows that someone else believes in your idea already.
2. You Overwhelm Yourself With Unreasonable Deadlines
Taking on extra tasks or setting impossible deadlines for yourself isn’t going to impress anybody. It’s important that you recognize your weaknesses and strengths so that you can decide which tasks to volunteer for or give an accurate timeline on when things will get done.
This also helps you plan ahead. If you know your time management could use some work and you end up with three projects due by Friday, recognizing your issues will make it more likely that you plan ahead to make the most of your time.
3. You Feel a Bit Intimidated By Everyone Else
It’s easy to feel small when your coworkers are seemingly so much older and wiser, especially if there are interns that seem to be more similar to you. Resist the urge to join their group and lunch, and don’t be afraid to stand out.
You were hired for a reason, so be confident. Use eye contact to show that you’re serious, and don’t be worried about sticking your neck out for something you think is worth it. People will appreciate your confidence.
4. Your Co-Workers Can’t Stop Talking About Your Age
Chances are, your coworkers will react to your age in two ways. They’ll either be impressed by how much responsibility you can handle and how great a job you’re doing, or they’ll bypass you to go find an adult. It’s a pain either way, because you want to be treated the same as everyone else instead of a wunderkind or toddler.
The best thing to do here, really, is let it go. Keep going above and beyond expectations, and if you feel too ignored, quietly ask a mentor for advice.
5. Your Clothes Are Too Young for Office Life
This is a trap that many people fall into, no matter their age. Outfits that are too out-of-the-box, short, or bright aren’t always the best pick, no matter what was OK during your interviews or internships.
It’s best to pick a subtle but still unique signature piece, like a special bracelet or tie, and integrate that into whatever attire most people at your office seem to be wearing instead of going for an entire statement outfit.
This way, you can stand out in a meaningful way and not in one that’ll get you called into your boss’s office for a chat about your blinding neon shirts.
6. You Feel Totally Out of the Loop
Maybe it’s because you’re still the new kid, or maybe it’s because you just didn’t do your homework, but sometimes you’re going to feel like everything is happening without you. It’s important to be prepared, whether that means reviewing meeting presentations before turning in your final report or reading up on the latest products your company has rolled out so that you can answer customers’ questions.
It’s also OK to ask questions–just ask smart ones. Being prepared comes in handy here too. If you’ve already done as much research as possible on the issue you’re facing, you’ll know that whatever questions you come up with will be met with genuine answers instead of rolled eyes.
Keep your skills sharp so that you’re never lagging behind by going out of your way to learn more about your field, whether that means going to seminars or just having a chat with your manager. You’ll go from being a novelty to just another awesome coworker in no time.