Generations

I’m definitely the youngest person in my building at work (perhaps tied for youngest… but I think my counterpart in Economic Development is one year older). I was the third youngest at grad school. While technically an “adult,” whenever I do “adult” things, I’m always the youngest. I’m learning what circumstances I work best under.

For example, I have always been a “hit” with the over-70 crowd. My first job was at a retirement home, serving meals. The residents all thought I was pleasant and adorable. The church folks love me too. An easy demographic to win over, I think.

The group in offices that I get along with most are, surprisingly, people my parents age. I really thought this would be the most awkward group, but since I come from a household with two people in their late-fifties, I have a better idea of what to expect from them and how they think. Conversely, they get along with me because they have kids my age, and enjoy seeing people younger than them at the office, and helping them succeed. Plus, it’s nice to really have a conversation with someone who has had experience in your field of interest (my dad sells medical devices… not up my alley) and can give you good career perspective. One of my project teams is me, and intern at Humphrey, and a guy who is exactly my dad’s age. We get along great. It’s really a lot of fun.

Today my partner for volunteering was probably a little older than my parents, a retired public school teacher. His son is at Augsburg and daughter is finishing up a master’s at the U. We were able to share similar experiences about paying back student loans, having kids “boomerang” back into their parents house, etc.

The group I have a hardest time with are folks in their mid/late 30s. These folks have kids, other priorities, and are still struggling with work/life balance. They have to do a good job now in order to get a better job later. And while that’s true of me as well, when you’re the lowest on the totem pole, there’s nowhere to go but up. These people are concerned about stagnating, and not achieving everything they want. Also, women with pictures and constant status updates of their babies on Facebook. It’s difficult to connect with them. PLUS, folks in their 30s and 40s look at younger people like me and don’t want to spend time training/trying to get along with me. There is one notable exception to this rule at work, but his wife is pregnant, so it’s only a matter of time. (Maybe if you get along well before there is a baby, you have a better chance of staying friends after it is born, as opposed to meeting someone only after it has arrived…?)

But, before long, my parents generation will retire and I will get older and become part of the problem. Hopefully, being aware of these changes will help.

-Katie*

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