Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What I learned in 1996

In 1996, I finally got a job that was of a "livable" wage -$25k/year. I leased a Dodge Neon and thought I was on top of the world.

That job was a career shift for me. I left journalism to be a marketing director for a local association. Interestingly enough, one of the reasons I was able to get that job was that one woman on the hiring committee was the mother of someone I worked with at my college newspaper, The State News.

Anyway, when I started working there, our executive director was a 50-year-old Boomer woman. She was great to me. Mentored me. Was nice to me. And then she was fired.

I sat on the hiring committee for the next executive director. The guy we chose seemed awesome. Results oriented (he said). And then when he started working for us, it was clear this guy was, frankly, mean. However, I have to thank him. Because of him, I learned about Generation X.

It seemed that everytime I talked to this guy, he either didn't understand me, or took what I was saying the wrong way. It was frustrating. An HR friend of mine said, "Oh, that's because you're Gen X." And so I started reading on the topic.

So what did I learn here?

1) There are cool Boomers who are willing to lend a hand up to younger workers.

2) Contacts are everything. If you want a job, knowing someone on the inside can make all the difference. Even if it's your friend's mom.

3) If you are a trail blazer (like my first boss at the association), it can get you fired.

4) People lie on their job interviews. And the true psychos are good at it.

5) There is a generational communication gap that causes workplace conflict - and we can't expect "other people" to take care of it. At 25 years old, I wasn't far enough in my career to make big change. But I could learn to operate within a system I had no part in setting up.
In retrospect, what I learned was the Gen X revolution that started in the late 80s and early 90s was not a revolution at all - it was an evolution.


JK said...

neons go weeeeeee weeeee. cute little dune buggies.

Kristina said...

No kidding about contacts... Every job I've gotten since washing dishes in the dorm cafeteria has been through some kind of contact. Every single one.