A young woman in a petticoat outside by a tree

Stepping into the workforce for your first job can be a daunting experience. It is uncharted territory and can often be a bumpy process. 

The job search, application cycle and interview process can feel extremely overwhelming. While it’s common to stress about landing the perfect job or searching in the right places, I think one of the most common underlying stressors is, “What if I’m not experienced enough?” or “How do I communicate my value as a young woman entering the workforce for the first time?” 

Being the youngest in the room as you step into the workforce brings challenges that are twofold. It brings up fear and lack of confidence in ourselves, and it can also bring up a lack of confidence in us from employers. 

Right off the bat I think it’s important to say: it’s 100 percent normal to be a bit fearful or nervous when you are the youngest in the room. I’ll never forget the words that somebody said to me in college while applying to my first job, “The employer is more likely to embrace the fact that you are young if you embrace the fact that you are young.” 

The employer is more likely to embrace the fact that you are young if you embrace the fact that you are young.

You cannot fully control if an employer is predisposed to overlook, stereotype or undervalue you as a young employee, but you can control whether or not you step into the room with confidence and your best foot forward. As somebody who is currently the youngest on staff at my current job, I have experienced the fear, the imposter syndrome and all of the challenges that come with stepping into a workplace as a young woman.

In moving through these fears, I have found a few tips that have grounded me when that fear creeps up. I hope these will help you too. 

Stand in confidence and humility.

Regardless of age, we all have assets to bring to the table and also skills that we have yet to learn. When entering into a workspace as a young woman or as a recent graduate, be mindful that you can be simultaneously confident and know that you bring something to the table while also showing your employer that you are eager to learn and adapt in new ways.

No matter your age, there is always more room to grow and to learn. The workplace is always evolving, so showing eagerness to learn will only highlight your humble willingness to grow.

No matter your age, there is always more to learn and room to grow.

Detach from the outcome.

Your worth is not attached to your job or how far you get in an interview process. As long as you put your best foot forward in all areas of work and communicate what you can bring to the table to a potential employer, their response is not for you to control. It’s important to accept responsibility for how you move through the application process or how you operate in the workspace. Let go of any responsibility for other people or their responses.

Entering into the workforce as a young woman can be daunting and intimidating, but it can also be really exciting. This is the start of your journey in the workforce, and while it may feel uncharted, you get to do the charting!

Every person started somewhere. Every person has been the youngest in the room at some point in their lives. In case no one has told you lately, you are capable and worthy.

Have you ever struggled with imposter syndrome or disqualifying yourself in the workplace because of your age? How can you detach worthiness or competence from your age?

Image via Manuela Iodice, Darling Issue No. 19

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