A Millennial Survival Guide in a Workspace

Used and abused for being young in the corporate environment

Get over this nonsense!

I don’t understand what about the corporate world and the people in it that makes you shed your softness and kindness and grow dragon skin all over, but it does just that. When my family used to tell me media is a dirty world and you’ll have to grow tough skin, I didn’t believe them. But here I am and I’m surviving!

Over the years and especially now as I have been in this corporate hole for 4 years, I have grown even tougher skin. I get into these conversations with my colleagues where they say that some of the people around my department fear me or are a little bit wary, but what do I care? Most of the people around me are not active outside the four walls of their offices.

Honestly, I have come to the point where I really don’t care whether you like me or not. I justify myself with you based on your work and output. I don’t like unnecessary personal interactions and as a person who has done a lot in her life and is continuously learning, I’m putting my self-respect first and you second. Don’t look at my age.

It wasn’t easy being that 19-year-old in a world dominated by people no less than 33 years and are stuck in a generational funk of not being able to push forward with the times and how entertainment consumption is shifting and changing. So when I used to speak on anything, it was predominately viewed foreign and my colleagues just thought I was weird (What am I still doing there though?)

They wanted me on their project teams because I was young, therefore, I was fresh. Fresh meat is how people behind desks will always view the passionate hyperactive young generation – fresh meat to do my bidding. What they did not know is that I catch on to the demoralizing biddings the media participates in, so I always find a way to get myself out of toxic environments before it gets to me or gets worse (I’m woke). Post-millennials are smart and we know when we are taken for granted.

Point 1: Your “weak” Arabic

The crazy funny hypocritical issue is that they’ll tease you on your English and they’ll tease you on your Arabic, so there is no pleasing. My advice is to use whatever language you are comfortable with and stick to it, as long as the other person understands you, that should be enough. You are not obliged to cater to no one but yourself. It’s almost 2020, we need to get over the language barriers and get into receptive linguistics – the understanding of a language but not necessarily speaking it. And if they still insist on lecturing you on it, please utilize point three.

Point 2: Your experience is your worth

Age does not dictate experience, but your knowledge and experiences do. And if you are in your mid-20s do yourself the favor and respect your knowledge, your skills, your time, your worth and contribution to your community. You don’t have to be superwoman or man to be worthy, you showing up and doing the work is more than enough. Don’t let anyone belittle your goals, your to-dos, or how you wish to move on with your life and work.

You want that promotion because you deserve it? Speak up. You don’t like the job offer? Negotiate. Do you want to lead your own project? Let them know. And whatever happens after that, stand your ground and speak truthfully and unapologetically. There is a fine line between rude and honest. Be honest.

Point 3: Strap that sass

It’s not attitude, it’s not rudeness, its a right. Be sassy but only as a defensive mechanism. How? When someone tries to be smart with you or belittle an aspect of you, bounce it right back at them. Put some salt on their weakness and abilities, but only to teach them that nothing of you is their concern. Some people cannot see their humanity that they will try to drain you of yours. Establish boundaries for people to not cross with you. As someone who is utterly friendly, that is something hard to do but necessary.

Point 4: Your superiors are human

There’s always this sense of hierarchy and superiority, especially in a traditional management environment. What you need to know is that your “superiors” are human too. Never look at them as anything higher or better than you. They’re not perfect. The point of working in a corporation is to help one another grow and work as a team. Their job is to be effective leaders and your role is nothing less than what they’re doing. They need you and you most probably don’t need them.

Point 5: Know what you like and stick to it

Sometimes it’s easy to lose yourself and departure away from your main tasks because you are trying to people please, especially at the start. But stick to what you believe you do best in and work as a team where everyone pitches in and is acknowledged equally. You are there to contribute and not to serve under a tyrannical persona who thinks they know best and tells you what to do. If so exit completely.

I’ve established along the way that an environment that hinders you is an environment that is insecure of itself and a toxic one. If you’re not able to change it then take yourself out of it. The world is bigger than what is in your peripheral vision.


Nouf AlJahdami is an Emirati creative based in Dubai. Her work expands from theoretical research to essays and art pieces of various mediums. Her prime exploration is within topics of identity, spirituality, culture and developmental politics from the Middle east and Africa for the Western world. You can find her on instagram here

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