It’s okay to be young and inexperienced

I’ve gotten some double takes when I submit my resume and clips: it seems like I’ve been working longer than my birth certificate might allow. I’ve received the same response since I started writing for money — right out of high school. I got to the point where I simply tried to avoid telling my age — tough when you want to include your graduation dates on your resume.

Youthfulness is not generally seen as an asset to a freelance writer. Clients tend to assume you’ll be less professional and less knowledgeable. The same goes for writers with only a clip or two under their belts.

Don’t let either stop you from pursuing your chosen career, however. Landing freelance writing gigs, luckily, is not about reaching the correct age. Instead, it’s about a great portfolio and a professional demeanor. If you keep writing, pretty soon time will deal with issues of both youth and inexperience, after all.

There is only one part of my writing career that has had some problems because of my relative youth. I write regularly about politics and recently I put together a short article that mentioned an organization. I received some comments about how that organization is often seen in a negative light because of their actions in the early 1990s. I had no knowledge of these events because, well, I spent the early 1990s in elementary school. I wasn’t exactly paying attention to politics back then.

But relative youth can also be an asset. The stereotype of young people is an aptitude for technology — social marketing, research and other skills seem to come naturally to those people who grew up with the internet. If you’ve developed these skills, they can tip the balance in your favor for a client worried about inexperience.

It’s not a crime to be young or just starting out. It’s just a matter of putting in the work to build a good reputation and win over your clients.

2 Comments

  1. Robert M.D. Minto   •  

    Interesting article. You’re right that hard work can overcome even the ‘disability’ of youth. In fact, on occasion, youth coupled with professional attitude and good writing is more impressive than age and experience with the same accomplishments. At the same time, I too have received rejections based entirely on my perceived inability to provide good content because of my youth… Still, we must keep plugging away!

  2. Susan   •  

    I can totally relate to this one! I try to avoid mentioning my age (which is why my graduation year is conspicuously missing from my resume, I just say that I graduated with honors with a BS), but sometimes editors ask. Now that I’m in my mid-twenties, though, I don’t feel quite as green as I did a few years ago.

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