I’m the eldest of three in my family—two years older than my sister and five years older than my brother.
I’m also accustomed to being the eldest. I’m used to helping my siblings out, being called on to take them out if they need to go to the store and they can’t drive, and (while it sounds rather pretentious) generally knowing more than they do.
So it’s kind of odd for me to be in a position where I’m the youngest and I know absolutely nothing. That’s how I feel at work.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand what I’m doing at work. I’m not totally lost at my job. I know what I’m doing and I like to think I do it well. But the work culture is really conversational, and so we often talk about music and movies and such while we’re running experiments in the lab.
Some co-op employers have multiple co-op students at once, but at the company I work at, I’m the only one. There used to be other students working with me, but they all went back to school, so I’m the only one left.
So I’m alone with people who are 5+ years older than me. And that’s not that big of a gap. There are a few book nerds and potterheads in the mix.
But it feels like a huge gap when you constantly hear “you won’t get it, you weren’t born yet.”
Which I sort of begrudge because I wasn’t born under a rock. I was born in the mid 90s. I grew up with both cassette tapes and CDs. VHS and DVD. I watched Full House and Who’s the Boss? and Friends. My parents let me listen to everything from Ace of Base, ABBA, David Foster and friends, and the Beach Boys.
And on top of that, I have my own tastes too. I like listening to Queen and the Beatles and classic rock.
And I mean, I like to joke along with them. Besides being the youngest, I’m also the co-op, which means I tend to get assigned a lot of grunt work behind experiments. A common joke is that they’ll find a mistake months from now, but there’s nothing they can do because it was a co-op student who did the work. And I don’t mind that joke much, because it’s true, if it ever would happen.
(Other jokes include the hiring process for co-ops, as well as the notion that co-ops will become movie stars.)(For context, the co-op student before me and I both feature in a documentary on the company.)
But it’s still sort of odd, being the youngest.