Today, entry level jobs are an oxymoron. Companies want 5 years of experience while still paying minimum wage. Before I even graduated I was reading job openings for positions that wanted applicants to be technically capable in Microsoft Office (it’s 2017—who isn’t?) while also fluent in English and some almost-dead language. Sure, I can make a PowerPoint with the best of them, but I can’t juggle much less speak Zulu.
I spent the summer of 2016 in front of my laptop, googling my nights away. I’d just graduated from college and my heart was set on finding a job I liked. While there’s no shame in working minimum wage positions, I’d just spent the last four years of my life attending college and I was fully aware of the student loans I needed to pay off. Eventually, I was offered a job in a medium-sized town in Minnesota. I took it, because student loans are terrifying, and I was starting to feel like I was swimming with sharks.
I’ve always been a big believer in “fake it till you make it.” Now that I’m adulting, it’s become my mantra. Before I interviewed for the job I currently hold, I stared myself down in the mirror and recited, “You are qualified, you are qualified…” Of course, what your college career counselor and your parents don’t tell you is that an interview is as much you fooling them as they fooling you.
My first day of work, I met that cold, menopausal lady called reality. Given the size of the town, I thought for sure I’d be able to make friends with someone my age in the office. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone but my boss and her friend was over the age of 50. It didn't take long for my boss to dub me "the token millennial."
Some stereotypes they were right about: I love social media, and I hate sitting at a desk all day. During the interview process, I'd successfully hidden my desperation for needing a job ("Yes, I can drive 2 hours for another 30 minute interview... I have plenty of money for gas!"), and they'd fooled me into thinking that the town was full of men and women my age.
We were both wrong. By the time I'd finessed by way into the job, I had two weeks to find a new apartment and a bank account that gave me fierce side eye every time I even thought about using my debit card. A week later I handed a teller some savings bonds and moved into a dinky apartment across the street from a meth dealer. About the same time, I learned that the town was infamous for losing young people to the metropolitan city an hour away.
If I wanted to meet any men at a bar, I'd better lower my standards. (Who really wants to date someone with all their teeth? Details..)
It's been a couple months, and I'm still focusing more on the faking it part than the making it. Most mornings, I have a stare down with my reflection as I remind myself that I'm a badass who loves (or at least likes) her job. Along with the mouthwash, I make sure to rinse out my potty mouth and bad attitude.
As the token millennial, I'm learning a lot. For instance, baby boomers don't realize that if you need to talk to someone, you can use the chat feature on the computer. I've also learned that anyone who schedules a meeting a before 9 am is the devil and is not to be trusted.
Mostly, I've realized it's awful lonely to be the only one my age in the entire office. So I've taken to writing. Best case scenario: some other millennials read and laugh with me, or baby boomers see an alternative perspective. Worst case scenario: I'm typing into the void.
Either way, while I like my life, I don't love it yet--but it sure as hell keeps me laughing. Because at the end of the day, few things are as frustrating as being the only one in the office who understands that when the tech guys say “the cloud” they’re talking about technology and not the weather… but that’s a story for another time.