”I wouldn’t want to be young in this day and age!”
How old does this statement make me and others who say it sound?
But it’s true!
As International Youth Day is acknowledged every year in August, I would like to use this month to take a moment to highlight my thoughts.
In a world in which screens have figuratively become an additional limb, slang has been shortened and there might be a different train of thought on how competitive situations should be approached, a young person’s life is much different from the period of time I spent during my younger years.
I did not have what young people have today: advanced technology (including phones and readily available internet), emotional support (specialists and resources), isolation inducing pandemics and more socially driven pressures.
We all, as young people, face challenges and pressures, however, I can’t imagine being bullied in my bedroom (via my phone) or not be able to hang out with friends because it was illegal to.
Considering the slightly older but young people, I question how this has had an impact on the slightly older ‘youth’ category.
Those who were taking exams (I know A Levels were the most challenging exams I undertook and I didn’t have the complications that my younger counterparts have had to face) must have been stressful having to adapt and flex, studying for something and knowing more of the unknown was imminent when they finished.
University life has not been close to similar to the experience I, and many others, had in the last few years. With lectures taking place online or being cancelled, the whole point of a young person’s experience was blotted out as if the academic side of it was the most important element, rather than the whole notion of going to university as being a lifelong learning experience for something much more important.
Whilst being a teenager has always been tricky in so many different ways, I have no doubt that embarking on a career is as hard, if not harder, these days than when I had to take that leap.
The competitive nature of having to have the highest grades in the ‘correct’ subjects is prohibitive before any young person even gets a chance.
How can anyone ‘land’ on their feet when they have to make choices that create their fate at the age of 13?
For this reason, I have always recruited Assistants based on their personal traits (in the main) rather than their academic skills.
It is a great feeling knowing that I have given someone who is focused, hard-working and open to new ideas a break to pursue a career as a Personal / Executive Assistant.
With that, comes a recognisably huge responsibility.
Young people can be categorised (sorry) into two distinct groups.
The first expect things to be handed to them on a plate and somehow feel self-entitled.
Those that fit in the above group can stop reading now...
Then there is the majority of others.
I have found most people I have had the pleasure of mentoring to be conscientious, hard-working and wanting to become better that what they were last month, last week and yesterday.
I mentored and lined managed Assistants throughout my career for over 20 years and I loved every minute of the journeys I took with them. Even the more challenging moments.
Because these people were me 25 years ago. Except I was self-taught.
What I mean by that is that after I was awarded a distinction in my Pitman Executive PA Diploma, I fell (rather than jumped) into the deep end.
Out of eight companies that I was employed with, I started as a PA / EA in six of them with no executive to greet me on the first day I started.
That meant I had to find my feet quickly, push myself up from the deep end and ‘do’ my job whilst they were on an overseas business trip at the time.
I could have sunk or swum.
For me, there was no option.
It allowed me to review what was in place and practise the current processes before making any changes to suit my needs and style of working.
The importance of being able to understand how things are going to work for ourselves, personally, is the first step to being able to serve others at the highest level.
My career continued with me taking people under my wing and supporting them in general ways. I was a confidante, which I was proud of, and very often a voice for the support staff team.
The question that I began asking myself, and continue to, is if young professionals know how to progress in their career whilst navigating the social, mental, emotional and physical challenges that face them?
It is often their first time living their lives independently financially, they may be in an unfamiliar town or city, their social circles might be weakening because everyone has moved to different places to work and live.
I recognise the complexities that surround all of that while they are settling into new jobs, often at the start of their careers, and I want to be there to share their successes and learning opportunities so they can do so confidently and assertively in a pleasant way.
I would like younger people who want to become the best senior Assistants to have access to the support required that is required.
And that is where I come in.
It is very rare these people are offered independent and unbiased advice as to what they need to do to become better Assistant, work with their executives with a mutual respect and develop themselves in both hard and soft skills.
They are often told to keep things ‘under their hat’, they counsel their executives in business and personal matters and are expected to take burdensome information on life matters they have not experienced themselves and they are acutely aware of the responsibilities and accountability that come with the actual job.
I have it covered.
I have been there, I know how it feels.
Sometimes you feel you are doing beyond your best and it still isn’t acknowledged or you aren’t thanked for your efforts.
The juggling act of serving someone in a senior position, whilst liaising with people of all levels from all walks of life, that might not necessarily understand the importance of the requests and demands made of them, can be challenging, time consuming and exhausting at times.
I consciously designed my corporate career so that I could gain experience in different roles to be in a position now to be able to offer a mentoring programme for the very person that benefits from it.
The experience I have gained in my corporate career, together with living life into my middle aged years, has allowed me to realise that every person learns and develops differently.
The younger generation has a lot to contend with.
With just a little additional support and encouragement, they will be equipped to deal with the ever changing needs of what the world throws at them.
The Mindful Mentoring Programme is tailor made so that, regardless of what a person needs support with, it is covered.
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