What I Need as a Young Person to Feel Valued at Work
by Westin McMullin |
My name is Westin and I have been employed with PeopleWorx – Nova Scotia Works for close to three years. My perspective is one that I think many youths can relate to—fresh out of school, entering the workforce with little to no experience, and scared of what the future might look like.
The following reflects my experience entering the workforce in my early 20’s after spending six years in college and university. Ultimately, it speaks to what I as a young person need in order to feel valued in the workplace.
1. Being taken seriously
As a young professional, one thing that has made me feel valued is when others take my thoughts, opinions, and input seriously— especially when it comes to people in management roles. It was stressful to think about putting myself out there when my co-workers had way more experience than I did, and although I didn’t have much to contribute in terms of work experience, I still had lots of other skills and experiences to offer
From the time I was hired, I knew that the promotion of youth related services was something my organization felt strongly about, and I soon realized that I was the person people (both other staff and management) would come to when looking at ways we could attract youth to use our services. My coworkers started asking me questions about student loans, colleges, and difficulties they had with technology. I could only assume that to them, it was just something small they were coming to me with, but it made me feel like I was included in conversations, and that what I had to say mattered. Ultimately, it made me feel like part of the team, that I had something valuable to contribute, and that I should keep contributing in the future.
2. Room for growth
It is a motivating feeling to see how other employees within my organization have grown into other positions. Over the three years that I have worked for my organization, I have seen people leaving their positions and moving on. Every time that has happened, something has gone out to staff first letting us know of the vacant position, giving anyone who may be interested the chance to apply before posting externally.
For example, there was a job opening for a Personal Development Facilitator which I applied for within my organization. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that position, and I think a big part of that was something which a lot of other youth can relate to: experience. And although it didn’t pan out as I wished it would have, it opened the door for a conversation between me and management regarding professional development and how I could build my skills. At first, I felt like I was failing or that I wasn’t good enough, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw it as motivation to work on the skills I didn’t have or improve the skills I did. In the moment it felt like I wasn’t valued, but the experience allowed me to realize that there were things I could work on to grow into a more skilled worker, and my workplace was willing to help me do that.
There are many things that I could have written about and many experiences I’ve had where I have felt valued in my work, but the two that stood out the most to me were being taken seriously and being offered opportunities for growth within the organization. More and more of those in younger generations are interested in skill development and are seeking greater purpose in their work. We live in a day and age where a person’s mental wellbeing is becoming more of a priority. Ultimately, feeling supported and valued at work makes a huge difference and leaves an impact. Not only is a healthy workplace beneficial for employees, but it is also good for the employer.
CEI Youth Advisory Group Member, 2021-22
Westin McMullen is the Information Resource Specialist for PeopleWorx-Nova Scotia Works in Middleton, Nova Scotia. Westin has completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at Acadia University and went on to complete his Advanced diploma in Addiction Community Outreach for NSCC Kingstec Campus.