I recently came across this fascinating article from Fast Company entitled “Thirty is the New Fifty”. The article talks about an increasingly common rite of passage, the day you find yourself working for someone younger than you. Given the country’s demographic profile and technological trends, this upending of historic, age-based hierarchies and power structures is the new reality.
It happened to me for the first time two years ago and while there was the initial shock of realizing I was old enough to be older than someone (if you follow my drift), this evaporated almost instantly. Instead, I feel blessed that I’m working for my favorite type of boss – the one that gives you all the rope to hang yourself but is right by your side to cut it down just before it’s too late. As I read this piece, I realized that not only was I fortunate to be working with Darren Greeno, Executive Dean of Workforce at Skagit Valley College but I was also blessed to see many of the best practices of inter-generational cooperation, friendship and community described in the article truly alive in the BAS-AM program.
The age range in the program goes from “just turned 21 and celebrated in Las Vegas” to folks with more life experience. Daily, I watch how the program participants embrace the points raised in this article – those with “digital dexterity” support those who are relative novices. And folks with more life experience coach newer workforce entrants on things such as interview techniques, navigating the art of balance and coping with imbalance. I’ve had program participants coach me on the finer points of bands whose names I can’t pronounce, smile indulgently when I refer to flash drives as floppy discs, teach me the vocabulary I need for street credibility and listen intently when we enter into discussions on lessons learned from actual workplace experiences. It is a wonderful thing when the sum of the parts become greater than the whole. It is also a wonderful thing when you experience yet another way the BAS-AM program is enabling all of us to be effective participants in the workforce and life long learners who seize every opportunity for growth.
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