I belong to the largest youth run organisation in the world. It is run by students for students. It aims at providing a platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential to have a positive impact on the society. This organisation is known as Aiesec.
Being a member of Aiesec for about three years now, I have had a lot of interaction with cooperates. This interaction has been both positive and negative. I feel sad to report that this interaction has been more negative than positive.
We had a contract with a certain HR firm that was handled very unprofessionally by the firm. I feel they handled us the way they did because we are young students. There’s nothing that hinders me form being professional just because I am young and a student. If anything that is a strength. Why would a company want to take advantage of me just because I am young?
Resently we lost a very lucrative partnership because the company claims we were unprofessional. What led to this was, we had invited the managers at that company to come and give a leadership talk. Two days to the event we had to postpone the event because of financial reasons. Immediately we came to the decision of postponing the event, the company was notified. They were or rather, our contact person within the company was very rude and even insulted the person he was speaking to. He claims we were unprofessional in postponing the event. How can they judge us on being unprofessional while they themselves do not up hold professionalism. His reaction was harsh, which, I think if he was dealing with an organisation that was not youth run he would not have reacted the way he did. People keep preaching that the youth are our future yet they don’t treat the the youth like their future depends on them.
What picture are cooperates painting for the youth? Do I have to be a certain age to be professional or be taken seriously? Since when is professionalism associated with age? And if age is associated with professionalism, how old should I be to be considered a professional person? I personally, am appalled by how the cooperate world treats young people. As you make me get your coffee and run your endless erands remember you will need a successor and most likely it will be us, the youth. So instead of treating us as worthless beings, pay close attention to what we do because the number of young CEO’s is on the rise. When we are turned down by ‘mainstream’ cooperate we go and start our own wildly successful companies. And as they say, be good and kind to everyone you meet because you never know when you will need them.