Q: I did very well during my time in the U.S. Army, but after fulfilling my commitment and receiving my bachelor's and master's degrees in business, I returned to my small hometown. I know small town salaries can't compete with those in the bigger cities, but I wanted an immediate job, so I took one at minimum wage. I am at a company where the employees get excited over receiving a $1.00 increase per hour. In the interim, I kept interviewing for financial jobs at smaller companies so I wouldn't feel like my education was a waste of time.
I got an interview, which first started with a phone conversation. The person didn't know anything about federal or state labor laws because she asked me how old I was. She said didn't want to hire anyone under 30, but didn't explain why. I assumed she thought they would not be mature or experienced enough for the job or something. I couldn't believe she told me any of that. I answered her age question and did not tell her she was wrong to ask it, much less to share her feelings on hiring from a certain age group. I thought if I tried to tell her anything, it would go over her head, but someone needs to bring her into the present time. I would never sue a company for this, but this kind of naivete is similar to the uneducated type of conversations I hear at my minimum-wage job. How do I educate people who are back in the '50s and '60s without sounding arrogant?
A: Wanting to be educated is not about being arrogant; it's about wanting to "Be All You Can Be" (to borrow a slogan from the United States Army). Also, you are not arrogant by wanting to educate people when you see them exhibiting a lack of information, but some people are not open to learning, regardless of the topic or how it may benefit them. If you feel it's your responsibility to teach a person who is lacking in knowledge they need, share your information, but be prepared for rejection. You win some, you lose some, and everyone can learn by the saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."
You had reasons for returning to your hometown. Now that you're home and seeing life as it is there, it might be time to reconsider your job search location, basing it on all that you hope to achieve. A loving family should always be there for you and should honor your desire to grow wherever you choose to live. Your childhood home may have been peaceful and safe for children, but you're an adult now who wants to make use of your degrees. You're at a serious crossroads and you have many situations to analyze before deciding.
Pros and cons exist in every job market, and everyone's priorities are different. It's helpful for some young adults to move away from families to be able to develop themselves personally through relationships and independently through their careers. Older adults sometimes return to childhood homes to be near aging parents. It's time for you to choose: Stay near family in a town with limited resources and career opportunities, or to move to an active location with a more lucrative job market and visit when you can. Once you decide, thoroughly research the companies you apply to. Because you've pursued excellence along your path of growth, it sounds like you might be happier working for larger, more professionally run companies.
Email life and career coach [email protected] with your workplace questions and experiences. For more information, visit www.lindseyparkernovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.