The 20s are not easy time in a person’s life, especially in an economy that has the stability of a house of cards. For the past three or four years, there have been countless books and studies focused on the plight of the millennials. My generation also is the first batch of young adults who can barely remember not having access to a computer or the Internet. Personally, I began learning to use a computer in kindergarten when my grandfather brought one home from work. School assignments were always completed in Microsoft Word, and I honestly cannot remember a time where I could not find an academic answer online. By the fifth grade, I won the award for best Powerpoint presentation, not realizing how crucial that tool would be in my adulthood. Needless to say, technology has always been in my life and has been adapted to each section. Personally, I use it to connect with friends and for entertainment. Professionally, it has become my career as a social media manager.
Currently, I am the communications liaison at a non-profit in Philadelphia, with my main responsibilities focusing on digital media, specifically social media and web content. The day I started, I was exactly six months out of college and 22 years old. Almost at my year mark with the company, I can confidently say I am doing a good job managing and evolving our digital components. We have increased fans and followers of our social media pages, along with viewers to our website. Throughout the last year, my colleagues have been supportive of my ideas, acting as mentors in my growth as a professional in a position I love. They have treated me with respect and as an equal, regardless of my age, which is something I appreciate even more since I read the article mentioned below. Although I celebrated my 23rd birthday recently (I jokingly complained that I was over the hill), I am still the youngest person in my department. Yes, I may know more about Twilight than anyone in my office, and was trying to master potty training when they were starting their careers, but that does not mean my work ethic and delivery is under par to theirs.
Recently Business Insider ran an article titled “11 Reasons a 23-year-old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media.” It painted my fellow 23-year-olds as immature kids who lack the ability to be taken seriously in a work setting due to lack of self control. The further I read, the more I cringed for not only myself, but for my peers who are currently working tirelessly to start their careers in the right direction. By the end of the article, all I could do was shake my head at yet another generalization of my generation.
The first reason listed in the article is that 23 year olds are not mature enough. The article says that we tend to feel “unstable and self focused.” Alright I will be honest, my personal life at the moment can be summed up by the Britney Spears song “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.” But that is handled within my personal life off the clock, just like my love life and family issues. I am completely aware that when I am at work for those eight-plus hours each day, whatever I write, produce or say is on behalf of the company. The social media pages are geared to the audience of my organization, and its mission.
Another one of the 11 points noted that my generation “may be focused on their own social media activity.” Sure, I may post about my love for Taylor Swift on my personal Facebook profile, but that would never appear on the social media sites I manage. Just like a dress code, I would not come into work in the mini skirt I wore on Saturday night. Since I began my first internship as a college sophomore, it was clear that from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. individuality is put aside to some extent and the company’s mission takes rank.
The article does highlight some valuable points to keep in mind when hiring a social media manager, such as the technical ability to use data collecting tools to keep track of analytics, along with the crucial need for strong communication skills — but why should this be exclusive to 23 year olds? These are traits that any employee in the field of not only social media, but communications should be able to deliver on a daily basis.
So on behalf of my fellow 23 year olds — who are trying to start their careers during the day, while figuring out their personal lives at night and on the weekends — do not discount us because of a few of us that may not have the drive, ambition and skills we posses. Let us prove that we can be just as hard working, talented and resourceful as our colleagues who can remember days before Google and New Kids on the Block when they were actually kids.