The youngest voice in the room

9 Jun

I was recently invited to partake in a 3-day strategy meeting, to assess and make recommendations for the future of our graduate program. That’s pretty exciting for me, because the graduate experience is something I feel quite passionately about. Then my eyes were drawn more closely to the words “strategy meeting”. I took a look at the names of the other invites, and saw People Leads and Recruiters, and well known employees and old-timers. What then, was my reaction?
“Uh-oh, looks like I’ve been invited by mistake, I should let them know to amend the invite”.
So I went from being exciting and thinking “this is exactly the event I want to be part of”, to assuming it’s a mistake and I won’t belong.
How did that happen?
It wasn’t that I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea, or that I wasn’t competent enough to go, and I definitely wanted to be a part of it. Yet there was an element of surprise: Why would an employee as new or as young as myself be requested to aid in strategy development?
Upon arriving on the first day of the meeting, I found myself confronted again. A colleague even asked “what are you doing here?”. The question was intended to uncover what perspective I, and other attendees, was providing, but I found it a little unnerving. I ran a mental check:
What was I doing here? Do I need to justify my presence? Will I be listened to?
I had a valid view to represent. As a recent graduate, a recent student, my views and my buy in would be just as important as any other.
Not only that, but I could offer the infamous fresh perspective. As a recently new hire, I had lesser view of what had been done in the past, and so less temptation to grasp onto the familiar. I also had a range of other experiences to draw from, that allowed me to offer unique insights. My presence had value. My presence had reason.
This leads me to wonder – are the opinions of the fresh faces being sought out often enough? Or should we continue to lean towards the veterans?
Yet more importantly, how often do new joinees avoid getting involved, because they feel their insight won’t matter?
At present, I only have anecdotal evidence – having been an intern twice, and now a graduate, and having worked and trained with other new joinees, I understand that we often feel we don’t know enough to start voicing our opinions. It’s best to sit back and learn from the experts, that’s what they’re there for, right?
I say that’s not good enough.
No matter what our experience levels, we have something to share, and plenty to learn.
If I’m not confident enough to share my own view, I’ll learn by questioning others’.
My plan is to get more involved in SIGs, giving presentations, or running workshops, if only to raise more questions.
My plan is to not run away.
My plan is to share my perspective.
What’s yours?

One Response to “The youngest voice in the room”


  1. Olivia Platek - June 23, 2012

    […] the strong finish point of my previous post, the youngest voice in the room, I’ve decided to look for inspiration on how to take those next steps. I recently picked up a […]

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