How on earth did I become an "older worker"?
It was only a few years ago, it seems, that I set out to climb the ladder in my chosen field. That field happens to be journalism, but it shares many attributes with countless other workplaces. For instance, back when I was one of the youngest people in the room, I was helped by experienced elders who taught me the ropes.
Now, shockingly, I'm one of the elders. And I've watched my industry undergo significant change. That's why I recently went searching for a young mentor — yes, a younger colleague to mentor me.
Wait, isn't that backward?
Not at all. Some companies — including Cisco Systems, Target and UnitedHealth Group — are embracing reverse mentorships, particularly as technological change sweeps through offices and lives. Millennials, after all, grew up with computers, and they are "natural consultants," said Debra Arbit, chief executive of BridgeWorks, which helps companies deal with generational differences. America's younger workers have already been "personal technology consultants in their own families, so it's a role they're very comfortable playing," she said.
I sought a mentor to help me develop a specific new skill — and something entirely outside my comfort zone — namely, how to use Snapchat, the smartphone-based photo and video service that is popular among teenagers and young adults. Not coincidentally, Snapchat is also being used as a newsroom tool at The New York Times to reach new readers.
I didn't need to look far to find my mentor: Last year The Times's resident Snapchat expert, Talya Minsberg, 27, moved into a cubicle just a few rows from mine. Her job title alone — social strategy editor — is a clear sign of our changing world.