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Can Looking Young Hurt Your Career?

Can Looking Young Hurt Your Career?

Alison Green l Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

I am 22 years old, I have a degree and I am a Marketing Coordinator for a franchise. Now I work with two coworkers and my boss, all of who are in their mid 30’s. My boss has proven to be a great boss, until now.

The two coworkers I work with have known each other since they were 19, go on smoke breaks together and know all the same friends. So of course I don’t fit in so much already. I’ve worked here for 6 months and I guess I thought I might start to fit in by now, but that is not the case. One coworker in particular does not want me to fit in ever and she makes a point to let me know that. One day she’ll be kind to me and the next she’s well a complete “B”! Trying to kill her with kindness hasn’t worked and finally I talked with my boss about the situation, due to the fact that I was going home crying half the time. He said that my age was a factor in the way they all acted around me, that they don’t know how to act around me. They wouldn’t hang out with me outside of work because we wouldn’t have anything in common, so they don’t know how to act around me at work.

He also assumed, with these thoughts in mind, that I wouldn’t know what marketing layouts he would want so he has been asking someone outside of the company (his same age) to do designs instead of me.

Since this conversation, one coworker has not talked to me at all. I don’t want to work at a place I am not wanted but I need the money! My boss said he would talk to me later about the issue and has not. What should I do? I don’t think it is right to be treated like crap because I’m 10 years younger than everyone. Is it age discrimination when I am young?

This is a letter where I can’t actually tell what’s going on. When I first read your letter, my immediate thought was, “Wow, they’re focused on your age when they’re the ones acting like babies.” But then, on a second reading, I realized that there’s not actually much here to support that they’re behaving badly. You’re definitely interpreting their behavior as poor, but there aren’t many specific details supporting that. I mean, yes, you’ve got two coworkers who are good friends and that’s making you feel left out, but there’s not a lot here indicating that there’s much more going on beyond that.

So with limited information to go on, all I can say is that one of two things is happening:

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