How Can Young People Get Ahead in the Workforce?


There is a lot of talk about the complications and opportunities of young people in the workforce.

Around the world, people such as Pete Sheahan, Michael McQueen, and even myself have made a living of speaking at conferences, addressing the older generations in various industries about the opportunities young people provide.

However, it’s always a two way street. Although you, as a young person, have many advocates out there, it’s really up to us, young people, to break stereotypes in the everyday running of business.

Many older people claim that the problems with young people are around lack of focus, lack of goals, laziness, always doing the bare minimum. Reading this, I hope you totally disagree with these statements. I, as a young person, would never want to have that image in the workplace of being lazy, or irresponsible – after all, if we are entering the workforce, we are leaving behind our teenage dramas, and entering the world of adults, where perseverance and hard really does, still, pay off.

To break the stereotype, get a raise, and earn respect in the workforce, I’ve compiled some easy thoughts, observations and tips from my years of research of young people in the workforce, and those who are successfully earning respect, getting promotions, and so on by doing small things that may not necessarily be obvious or ‘fun’ to do, but it will definitely pay off in the long-run, so I hope you get value from applying these in your job. If you don’t, feel free to send me an angry e-mail, but hand on heart, I really have tried to compile the best of the best advice to help you get in the good books.

Don’t hate about starting out at the bottom.

The older generations always go on about how you need to start in the mail room and eventually, 209 years later, end up as CEO. Although situations have changed, and workplaces are recruiting the University graduates and young people in roles higher than the mail room when they first start out, the concept is still true.

As a young person, our only downfall is lack of experience, and that only comes by taking stepping stones to prove yourself and your capabilities, and understand your company better over time. The worst thing you can ever do is join a workplace with the expectation of falling into a high salary. No one ever ‘falls’ into a high salary – you must prove yourself. Think of starting at a lower salary as the compliment actually. The firm trusts you enough to actually employ you, because they need to work out how they can keep you in the company. The great thing for us is that older generations still have the understanding that people will stay with a company for a really long time. Although this may not be your goal, it is in the company’s intention to try and up skill you, in hope that you stay with them for as long as possible, and this means inevitable promotions as your skill level goes up.

Put your hand up for extra opportunities. One of the big stereotypes of young people today is that we are the generation of the ‘What’s in it for me’s. Not the nicest way to look at it, especially if you’re like me, and feel you’re always doing the best you can. If your workplace has community involvement opportunities, work that may go over your hours – even if you’re not getting paid for it, it will come back to you ten-fold in future when management is considering promotions. Show initiative when you can, because it all counts.

Put your hand up for professional development. Many workplaces are dedicated to keep upskilling their staff, so when the opportunity for professional development comes up, put up your hand. Again, this counts towards future opportunities when they consider giving you more responsibility, a pay rise, or other perks. By showing initiative to keep upskilling yourself, you are showing that you are keen to learn in order to do your job, or future jobs better, and more efficiently, as well as picking up new skills. The great thing about professional development is that it teaches you skills to help YOU, so don’t let the opportunity pass.

Contribute with ideas. The feeling of young professionals like you is usually, because you’re not in top management levels, it’s not always worth sharing your ideas you may have. Totally false. If you manage to pick up on a certain task that could be executed faster, better, easier, share your thoughts with your manager. You’ll not only be showing initiative, but showing that you care about the company, and your role in it. The worst thing you can do is not speak up, especially if it will make a job easier for you or someone else. You weren’t hired to be a robot - if you have a valid observation or suggestion, speak up.


Eva-Maria is a 21 year old social media and inter-generational relationships expert, family coach, international speaker, and author of the bestselling book ‘You Shut Up!’. Among other achievements, she’s the recipient of the Most Inspirational Role Model Award (2009) by Her Business, and Immediate Past President of the Wellington National Speakers Association Branch. Russian-born, Eva-Maria currently lives in New Zealand, running SocialeMedia and working with various groups, corporate, and families, and is on a full-on mission to help improve 10,000,000 adult-teenager relationships around the world!


Eva Maria is our youngest author. Born in Russia in 1990, she moved to New Zealand with her parents, brother and sister in 1996. She is now working towards an International Coaching Certificate.

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