I am rather young even for my field (web development). I was hired to my current job at the age of 19 (I'm currently 20). Unfortunately, everyone I work with (approx 24-32) has the mindset that I'm still a child/teen. For example, an offhand remark about when I go home to my parents or something. I don't think its malicious and its not said in the manner of someone poking fun. Its almost a passive condescending that they have have not given any thought.

I am a competent (albeit less experienced) full time developer (its not like I'm an intern). And this is the field I intend to work in for the rest of my working life. I've been working here almost a year now, and it has not really improved much. Is there something I should be doing to elicit more respect as an adult who has chosen this job/field as my career?

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    The say that they remark on you going home to your parents. Do you still live at home? – David K Aug 30 '16 at 19:39
  • @DavidK I'd have to agree if he lives at home then it wouldn't be a bad remark but a honest question. – Dan Aug 30 '16 at 19:49
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    I'm also in my first position in a related area (software, not so much web), and can say that I did experience a bit of this. I'd keep a few things in mind, one being that, well, you actually are young. This is honestly only a positive thing, starting your career at this age is great. The other is that if you honestly feel that this stuff falls under 'good natured ribbing', basically just having fun with each other, I wouldn't worry about it too much. As Richard U mentioned in his answer, just have a little fun with it, I'm sure that's all they're trying to do. – pay Aug 30 '16 at 20:09
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    The way you behave like an adult is to ignore their childish jibes about your youth. Reacting negatively only encourages them. – keshlam Aug 30 '16 at 21:51
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    Are you dressing like a kid? – paparazzo Aug 31 '16 at 0:38

You take your lumps like an adult. I was called "The kid" for years. If they didn't like you, they wouldn't tease you. Now, if you want to be treated like an adult, have adult responses.

Give a few good-natured responses back like "I just hope I have more hair left when I'm your age". Or "Isn't it time for your Geritol?" Et cetera.

That, and develop a very thick skin. IT is a full-contact sport; they're preparing you for the big bad world, junior.

  • 'If they didn't like you, they wouldn't tease you'... spot on – Kilisi Aug 30 '16 at 19:54
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    From the OP, emphasis mine: "I don't think its malicious and its not said in the manner of someone poking fun. Its almost a passive condescending that they have have not given any thought." – David K Aug 30 '16 at 19:56
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    @DavidK OP probably doesn't read minds and there's only a 5 year age difference, it's normal as far as I can see, just pecking order stuff, they're all kids to me. – Kilisi Aug 30 '16 at 21:40
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    -1 for That, and develop a very thick skin. IT is a full-contact sport, they're preparing you for the big bad world, junior. This maybe the case - but perpetuating a bullying culture is not the right solution. – dwjohnston Aug 31 '16 at 2:01
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    @dwjohnston Telling people how to deal with bullies is ending it not that empty buzzword you used. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 31 '16 at 6:46

You can't really control what others think or do -- all you can do is focus on the longer term and be patient. You may be in this career for a long time, but it's likely (given average turnover in the industry) you won't be working at your current company nearly as long.

Is there something I should be doing to elicit more respect as an adult who has chosen this job/field as my career?

Treat others as you would like to be treated, and be kind and respectful to others, even if (and perhaps especially if) they are not kind to you. Focus on good work and help others. It takes time to build a reputation as a solid, dependable colleague, and not everyone you work with will give you the benefit of the doubt.


I am not sure how many of these apply to you, But, I am in my 50s and since I have been in the workforce, every year, I had to work with someone young, very young, let it be an intern or a fresh grad or an early starter likewise yourself. And these are my observations. Again nothing implying you do these, or any assumptions. Just observations. Feel free to pick and choose

  1. Leave the jeans, raggedy shirts and flip-flops at home for the weekend. Dress office appropriate. A slack a dress shirt or a nice polo shirt with some dress shoes goes a long way.

  2. Keep lord of the rings (or enter any young adult movie name here) memorablia for your room at home, instead of scattering them in your cubicle

  3. Captain crunch might have been fine for breakfast last year, but if you have to eat at work, try having toast and butter or yogurt with fruit salad. Same for lunch. PB&J was when you were in grade school. Despite how much you like those things, do not eat them at the presence of your office co-workers.

  4. Pay attention to what people are talking about in the coffee room or water cooler and even if you are genuinely disinterested, try to learn some talking points about them. Probably NFL football in season, college hoops during spring and baseball in the summer months. Do not butt in the conversations but when there is a silence while others talking, you can interject your own points. It helps to make you one of the team rather than an outsider.

  5. Stay away from online chats or phone calls with your buddies from the age of empires clan, during the day time. reserve your home time for those chats. Gamer is still considered as child, although it is evolving.

  6. If you are able to afford, move out of mom's basement or garage into a tiny one bedroom apartment. Occasionally, you can invite few people from work, for whatever reason, like catching the game or BBQ on the patio.

  7. Biking to work is healthy and admirable but having a car with four wheels and a running engine is another admission to the big league. Again if you can afford it, it is a great point.

  8. Try to mirror what your co-workers are doing to a reasonable extent, in order to be accepted as one of them not as just a kid.

Most importantly, remember, in a couple of years they will hire someone younger than you are and you will no longer be the "kid" The dues you are paying right now will go away for good. Hang in there.

  • I only agree with the last part of your answer ("In a couple of years there will be a new kid so hang in there"). The rest of your answer sounds really old fashioned. – Kiwu Aug 31 '16 at 9:50
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    I'd say that if this answer solves the issue, the problem is really everyone else in the company. – Erik Aug 31 '16 at 10:04
  • Thanks everyone for the grandpa comment. Probably I could be grandpa to some of you if I chose to have offspring, but it is besides the matter. if a 20-something comes into a bunch of 40-something guys, it is already hard to get accepted. Why make it harder. if you think the problem is really everyone else in the company, I suggest that you remember the saying: If everyone is coming on your way, may be you are on the wrong way. If you are a new comer, I don't have to adapt my way of conducting myself because you are accustomed to younger things. Get with the program like someone said – MelBurslan Aug 31 '16 at 13:32
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    and most important, STAY OFF MY LAWN Actually, Agree with everything but 1,3, and 6. My captain crunch tastes great while I'm drinking out of my Dr. Who "Weeping Angels" coffee mug, and I'm one of the gray beards. – Old_Lamplighter Aug 31 '16 at 19:46
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    -1 for suggesting driving over cycling, and moving out of the parents. Both of these are ridiculous expenses, for otherwise non-functional value. – dwjohnston Sep 2 '16 at 0:36

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