The Youth Advantage

Or How Did I Get To Helsinki?

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I was nervously sitting in my boss's boss's office. Just a few minutes earlier I was in the safety of my cubicle, but now I was sitting on a fine leather couch in the corner office, looking onto midtown Manhattan through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls.

It was my first month at my first job out of college, and I was trying to figure out why he called me in (well, he called for Zori, which is close enough to my actual name). He cut to the chase: I was going present a report on the launch of a major video game to one of our top clients next week. First draft was due to him in the 24 hours, and, yes, I was excused. I left his office with one question, why did he pick me?

What many people in our generation (and some smart managers) are realizing is that while our youth means that we have a lot to learn, it also gives us some advantages. One of those advantages is that thanks to the countless hours we spent going online to do research for our homework, playing video games or hacking away text messages on our cell phones, our generation got an intuitive grasp of technology that the older generation simply doesn't have.

My boss's boss needed someone who could connect with our company's digital resources, scour the internet for research, and create a professional looking presentation; all things I knew how to do. The day of the meeting came, and I delivered a great presentation, proving that he was right to call on me.

The following year I moved to a New Business role. The stakes are always high when you're pitching new clients, so I accepted that I was going to have a teeny tiny role due to my low rank. Within my first few weeks, I was called into the department head's office, where she told me I was assigned to an important pitch meeting... in Finland. And, just like that , I was on a flight to Helsinki the next day.

Over the next two years, I worked with our top executives on almost every client meeting, and travelled around the U.S., and to China, India, Spain and Switzerland. Why? Because I was the person the team trusted the most with technology.

You might be picturing me as some kind of uber-geek or rogue computer hacker gone corporate, but I'll share the secret to success with you: knowing how to use Microsoft Office well, knowing how to connect a computer to a TV and knowing the right people to ask for help when things break.

Having a grasp on technology is by no means a substitute for hard work, resourcefulness, positive attitude or the many other things that make you stand out in your job. It is , however, a crucial skill in today's workplace that our generation is in a much better position to take advantage of than our managers' generation.

So know your strengths and your value as a young professional; it'll unlock amazing opportunities. If you don't feel confident in your tech savvy, you can find great tutorials on, sign up for an 'Intro to Microsoft Office' class, or call on one of your friends for help.

About the Author
Ori is a Communications Planner at Universal McCann, where he works on developing consumer insights and communications strategies for MasterCard. Prior to this role, Ori spent two years working on New Business at UM, where he was part of the team that ushered in a remarkable, high caliber group of U.S. and global clients such as BMW, Chrysler and Burberry, helping UM win 2009 U.S. Media Agency of the Year. Ori is also the president of the Young Professionals at the ADVERTISING Club, an organization for all communication professionals in New York. Ori received his B.S. in Business from University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business in 2007.
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