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Welcome to the jungle, er, workplace

(Deborah Jaffe / Getty Images )
May 13, 2014|By Matt Kuttan, @mkuttan

If you're a Millennial with a new gig or are starting a summer internship, there's a good chance there soon will be a co-worker in your immediate vicinity from Generation X, Y or Z. Three ways of identifying them: They're closer in age to your parents, they print out emails before reading them and Duran Duran emanates from the Beats headphones they got from their kids last Christmas. It is also very likely that you'll report to this person in some way,  and they can control whether your career gets off to a good start.

Here are eight pointers from one of them to help you remain sane and give your career a boost.

1. Clean up after yourself. These generations were the original slackers and invented grunge, but comparatively, you're at Ohio State/fraternity dorm-room level. They will go into mommy mode and tidy up after you leave the conference room, but complain to their neighbors later during book club.

2. While open workspaces are the norm for you, deep down, they make older generations cringe -- they still dream of corner offices with doors. They may have no personal space at home with their kids around, but at work, they expect more privacy than you think.

3. Speak up, but be smart: Propose solutions, don't just identify problems. To them, "why?" is an insult, even if it makes sense, but "why not?" can have a positive effect. You've been nurtured to always have an opinion and want quick affirmation, but before making a comment, start considering their reaction.

4. Prove you have drive and ambition. Make networking and communication your asset -- you can do that with your eyes shut. Throw some Run DMC lyrics or "Wayne's World" references into a presentation and they'll be impressed beyond belief.

5. You will not always be rewarded for good work or get feedback on bad work, but you will get feedback on punctuation and spelling. Learn to deal with it.

6. Remember that your personal life is public. You may not be your boss' friend on Facebook or Instagram but that doesn't mean one of your other young co-workers isn't. One tweet can wipe away months of hard work.

7. Be on time: Punctuality is a sign of respect and will be appreciated. Yeah, those 9 a.m. Monday status meetings are a pain, but if they could get there after being up for three hours, getting two kids to school and driving in from the suburbs, you can Uber in from your Old Town apartment on time.

8. Also, download "Reality Bites" and watch it a few times, even if it makes you cringe. That movie will give you pointers on tapping into their souls as well as hitting them up for bonuses later.

And finally, remember this: YOU are the future. At this very moment, they're reading articles on how to deal with so-called entitled Millennials. That they printed out beforehand, of course.

Matt Kuttan is a RedEye special contributor

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