"I don't like teenagers," a prospective employer from a major grocery chain blatantly stated to me during a recent interview. I was taken aback as the subtle form of prejudice reverberated across the room and hovered in the space directly above me: "I don't like teenagers." I wondered, how would this statement be received if the word "teenagers" was replaced with "African Americans"?..."Hispanics"?..."Homosexuals"?...or the "Disabled"? Is it fair for an employer to make a blanket assumption casting all teenagers as being rowdy provocateurs with dyed-hair and shower curtain rings as nose rings? I just can not stand for this kind of presupposition towards teenagers as a whole. My hair has been the same color since the day I was born, the only parts of my body that are pierced are my ears, and I have just graduated as the Valedictorian from my high school a year earlier than most, yet I was thoughtlessly shuffled into a category of firebrands and rabble-rousers. Are there some teenagers that fit this bill? Of course! But there will always be a select group of ruffians in any spectrum of age. As teenagers, we must stand up for our age-group as a whole by setting a strong example of character and excellence. The only way to break a stereo-type is to get out there and show the caliber of people that we all have the potential to be: serve in your community, strive for excellence in school, and be a hard-working teenage employee in a world of lack-luster, unmotivated job seekers. We can send a message (it's not always just about text messages) to the world and to employers who discriminate or make generalizations by age: "We may be teenagers, but we are responsible, educated, and willing to stand up for our image and the image cast upon teenagers as a whole."
"I don't like teenagers": Prejudice Towards Teenagers in the Workplace
June 10, 2011