My first real job started right after college. I was barely 22 and accepted a position working in communications for the county government. If you’ve ever watched Parks and Recreation, you can visualize exactly what it was like.
At my interviews, I wore a suit, asked all the right questions and even took notes. I sent handwritten thank you notes and practiced my acceptance and decline speeches. But this was my first job – which means there were some big things I didn’t consider in the interview process – beyond the fact that I would get paid EVERY TWO WEEKS.
What did I forget, you ask? Oh. Nothing much, but the following question would’ve been tremendously helpful:
“Say, does anyone under the age of 57 work here?”
Because the answer would have been a great big NO.
I’m not exaggerating. You see, in this particular facet of the county government, there was a rare magnetic force beneath the building that sucked in retirees and rejected millennials. Uh, except me. I was fortunate enough to make it past the secret youth filter and landed smack in the middle of the wrong generation. Who knows, maybe they needed me for a quota.
But, it was a good job. And I learned a bunch. But I was so lonely I think a small rain cloud followed me around between the hours of 8 and 5. The picture above is the only photo taken of me at this job, working at an event – and that “smile” was masking terror…the gentleman on the right was my big scary boss.
Which is why one day, when a consulting firm came in for a project meeting and I saw someone in his TWENTIES, I was full of glee. I latched onto said young person with such enthusiasm I’m surprised he didn’t hightail it out of the office.
My reaction was something along the lines of the baby bird in the Dr Seuss book Are You My Mother, only it was the unabridged version, For the Love of All Things Holy Please be My Friend.
Fortunately for me, this other young person was also looking for a friend. So we hung out, and did young person activities (like we did in college, but were too ashamed to discuss with older coworkers). And together, we survived the transition into working. Which is not at all like college, no.
It had been a few years, but I met up with this buddy today and we had a good time reminisicing. We’ve both since escaped to jobs that are better fits, but have never quite forgotten what it was like to be the new kid, and the honorary grandkid.