I am in my early twenties and only last year I started to work as an office assistant. So far, everything goes well (or, at least, I hope) and my boss even told me last week he would be pleased to cooperate with me once my part-time job is over.

However, I do not know how to approach my older colleagues. How to treat them? They are mostly women, with much more skill and more professional experience. On the other hand, I am just a student. So, should I be really more forceful (as my superior told me to do), or rather should I be more humble?

I know it is mostly problem in my mind, however, I can not help myself and still think that (because of my age) I should "keep a low profile".

Have any of you experienced this? How did you overcome it?

  • 5
    Treat everyone with respect. Don't be pushy; don't be humble. Do good work, quickly - but do not rush.
    – MikeP
    Feb 26, 2017 at 1:59
  • 1
    As I have experienced myself, the "problem" of being the youngest solves itself naturally over time...
    – dirkk
    Feb 26, 2017 at 11:56
  • 1
    There's a difference between being assertive and being pushy.
    – alroc
    Feb 26, 2017 at 12:48
  • 1
    Treat everybody and not the least yourself with respect.
    – PM 77-1
    Feb 26, 2017 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


Focus on being good at what you do, being polite and professional at all times, and being reliable. Lots of younger people tend to treat work as something they dread and generally thinking of it as an opportunity to hang around with other people and chat instead of getting work done. Avoid using unprofessional language at work and throwing around lots of slang. It might seem obvious, but I always less enjoyed interacting with co-workers who would curse or generally treat their job as something they hated. You don't need to act like you love your job if you don't, but co-workers really aren't the place to vent any workplace frustrations.

If you do your job well and are always friendly and pleasant to deal with, word will get around and you'll be viewed positively. Lots of people have an attitude in the workplace and the best solution is positivity above all else. I was once much the junior to my co-workers at my first job, I was also in my early 20's when the next youngest person was almost 40. After generally keeping to myself while doing my work but being very friendly and sociable with them when I interacted with them, I felt as an equal to them and they came to me when they needed things just as I felt comfortable going to them.


I think you should totally ignore the age of yourself and those around you.

I say this because of the position that I'm in, I've had to, and it makes things a lot simpler.

I'm a 20 year old working as a software implementation consultant in the ITSM industry (With a few years experience, even). Everyone I work with is double my age, on average.

Some people would be put off by my age if I told them, but I never do. Instead they notice the work that I'm doing. Your situation, ideally, would be the same.

Get noticed and focus on getting noticed for your work ethic, your innovative ideas, etc. Performance things.

As far as your question of whether you should be 'pushful' or 'humble', you should definitely be assertive. Just do it politely and don't be rude about anything.

From your supervisor's point of view, they'll be more satisfied knowing that when you need something from someone, you aren't afraid to ask for it. Not only in regards to your coworkers, but in regards to what you need from your supervisor as well. They don't know what you're missing that you need in order to be successful unless you ask for it. So be assertive. The only way you can get the things you need / want, in many situations, is to ask for it.

Never let your age be a factor. In some cases, your experience will play into the situation, but your age certainly should not.

Also, frankly, if someone were to mention your age when saying something about you, assuming the conversation were somewhat important, I'd recommend you correct them / rebut them with some information about what actually qualifies you, such as experience, skills, certifications, etc, rather than an arbitrary number.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .