I guess maybe I should thank you for validating what I have been suspecting for quite some time now – that I am not being considered for positions because I am on the ‘older’ end of the spectrum. After researching the various career-building websites out there to see if this was actually the case, you confirmed it for me right before we headed out to lunch. For months, I have been sending out my resumes, trying to remain positive, and doing what I can to salvage my dying career. I even went so far as to take this class to inject some life back into my skillset, and compliment the design skills I already have. This very class, where in a matter of seconds, your comment completely drained my self-confidence.
The feeling reminded me of when I saw my birth certificate and adoption papers for the first time. I have known that I was adopted my entire life. That was never a secret to me. When we went to the courthouse to get permission to review the papers, I knew I would see this woman’s name. What I didn’t expect, was my reaction to reading the words “I, Patricia Therese Frappier, hereby give up my parental rights to Baby Girl Frappier.” I felt angry, sad, and relief all at once. I couldn’t figure out why. I knew the story. I knew I came from somewhere; but now the trace feelings of abandonment I have had my entire life were given validation. The same validation your words gave to me, in response to my feelings of “I haven’t heard back from the recruiter, I think they feel that I am too old.”
Then as the class went on, I became angry. Who are you to say that you prefer younger people to work with, without adding more context? How dare you say something that refers to age, knowing that two people in your class are considered NOT young? The same two people who ACTUALLY do the homework and the pre-class work that is required for us to pass the course? I miss one class and feel horrible about it. One of the people in my class arrived late, had made social plans that she needed to be at before the class day ended, and has yet to pass in an assignment. What pisses me off more than anything, is that you just told me that you are more likely to hire HER because she is younger.
In some areas, younger isn’t always better. Younger- in the context of some of the students in my class- seems irresponsible, careless, and very self-centered. I can see why. Why do the homework or pass in assignments when your workplace footed the $4,000 bill for the class? What investment do you have in something that someone else is paying for? I mean, what kind of idiot stays up until 12:30 to finish her site map? This one, right here. I would also like to mention that the other younger members of my class also failed to bring their sketches in, even after you specifically asked for them IN ALL CAPS.
But what does that matter when these people can provide you with the freshest ideas, be easily persuaded into doing work that makes your life easier, and who is willing to be paid less? It should matter. Fresh designs are great, but if you have someone who isn’t very driven or follows the laws of common courtesy, then you have one fresh design and maybe not much else.
This Gen Xer is not afraid to say that she has had lots of experience in the real world of creating designs for other people. I know what it means to come in early and stay late. When I am given an opportunity, I give you my loyalty and channel that through my passion for my work. Whatever it is you need I will do and if I can’t, I will find someone who can or figure it out myself. Nothing was ever handed to me, I worked hard for every position I have been in since Friendly’s. In my opinion, my age is a moot point. My abilities haven’t changed. I can design the crap out of any presentation, any poster, any brochure, and any web page you hand to me.
The problem is, the world of Graphic Design is a young one. Youth rules and the curmudgeon says stuff like “You can’t use Google fonts, the fonts have to be system fonts…” There is a huge misconception that as people age, the are no longer creative. I don’t feel that way. The reactions of people who viewed my work didn’t reflect an opinion that because I was over 40, I wasn’t designing creatively anymore. I can say this- It doesn’t help when instructors repeat this to you when you are trying to breath life into your design world.
I am sure I sound bitter. It’s hard not to be when you were raised to bust your ass, live by the ‘work hard and you will be rewarded’ kind of stuff, only to find that one day you are not hearing back from people about positions you KNOW you could do with your eyes closed. You hope that it’s just a matter of someone being on vacation, or that maybe your website didn’t show them the cool project that they needed to see. What you don’t want to hear is that the reason you are not hearing from them is beyond your control, and you have no chance to show otherwise.
This Gen Xer refuses to give up, will not stop trying, and will continue on learning this incredibly interesting world of UX design in spite of possibly needing a walker in about 15 years. I am not going to stop fighting for my career and for my chance to provide for my family. My career may be changing, but I am not stepping down to allow a younger person who has no concept of what it means to come in early and stay late, take my career from me. You will have to wrestle my MacBook from my cold, dead hands…
Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but I refuse to give up. I have a lot of great experience to offer a company, and with my new skills combined with my background I can bring a combined approach where others may not be able to. My days of learning typography, layout, aesthetics, and basic common workplace courtesy were not for nothing. My passion is great, I am constantly getting inspiration from life around me and let me tell you, that at 43, this sh*t is getting off the ground.