So there is a dirty little secret in the next gen movement. Gen X folks can pull the same ageist nonsense that baby boomers do. I know this is absolutely shocking (unless you are a Gen Y nonprofit staff member that is sick of your Gen X coworkers constantly railing against your generation). Alfonso Wenker, who is a blogger at From Our Perspective and is featured in How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar: 50 Ways to Accelerate your Career, has a lot to say on this topic. From Alfonso:
I was hired for my first nonprofit job when I was twenty years-old. Yes, HIRED. It was a paid gig. AND it was a job in philanthropy to boot – and I still work for the same organization.
To this day I am still entirely humbled and grateful to Greg, my first boss, for hiring me. He took a risk and saw potential. And also, to this day, people continue to do a double take when they hear that I am in my twenties and work for a foundation in a lead program role. I still find myself saying at events and happy hours, “Yes, I am on staff and have been for three years.” It gets old after a while. Now in most settings I would expect that folks might be surprised to hear that a 23 year-old is the director of programs for a regional LGBT foundation, but the last place I’d expect to get pushback is at an event for young professionals. This has been a huge challenge for me.
When I landed what I call “the first job of my dreams”, I immediately started attending networking events, professional development seminars and of course “YP” events. Working in philanthropy I felt a little over my head at first. Everyone was older. Most everyone was white. Many had been seasoned nonprofit professionals before they arrived as program officers at a foundation.
I thought my one safe haven would be attending “YP” events. Think again. I suppose you could call what I encountered at these events, acute ageism. Sharing my age seemed to leave a bad taste in the mouths of people I thought to be peers. I continually had to assure my colleagues at these events that “No, I in fact, am not an intern. I am on staff.” I was shocked. These were supposed to be my people. We were supposed to band together about being younger in field dominated by folks 20 and 30 years older than us. Instead what I found was a general mistrust and disbelief.
Sometimes when I was not “out” about my age, I found my other young colleagues cracking jokes about “those twenty something’s” or ridiculing the work of their newest intern.
Read the rest of Alfono's post here.