Something that’s been nagging at me recently is how much younger I feel than my professional counterparts. I’m new on the job at full-service agency – I’ve previously only been in the digital space. I think most ad agencies skew young, but mine has been in traditional media for over 30 years and has a LOT of industry veterans.

I’m younger than virtually everyone I’ve interacted with so far, by quite a wide margin. I feel very self conscious of that fact when I’m in client meetings, speaking with vendors, and brainstorming with my creative team

Do you have any advice on how to feel confident in these situations? I’m terrified of somehow losing the respect of my cohorts by doing something inadvertently offensive or immature, as viewed by an older demographic.

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2 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    It’s okay to be immature and inapropriate sometimes because you’re younger. It’s okay to be younger. Just be smart. You can be your age and still be smart and a strong contributor. The less you worry that you’ll act your age the more you’ll be able to just be you. And that’s how you’ll make the biggest contribution at work.

    The same is true, by the way, for older people. It generally doesn’t work to try to “act younger”. You are best off being your best self and assuming people will like you for who you are. Trying to be someone you are not always makes people around you uncomfortable.

    That said, if you want to look older, wear heavy black-rimmed glasses. I wore those to work til I was in my early 30s.

    Penelope

  2. Natasha
    Natasha says:

    I use to work for an agency like you described, very traditional and they were just starting to get into the digital space. I can tell you that the older folks are just as scared of you as you are of them – especially since you have a strong digital background and they are still doing print and TV (cough, dinosaurs, cough).
    What does it matter really if they have been in the industry for 30 years – when everything is changing and nothing they did 5 years ago is still relevant? I would use your age and the fact that you are a Digital Native to your advantage, its nothing to be ashamed of.

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