Most college students enroll in higher education with a similar goal: to end up in a career that they enjoy. You put in the work, made sacrifices, and probably had a few sleepless nights during your time in college so that this goal could become a reality. However, recent graduates often do not understand some of the hardships that come with starting a business career. One of the main issues being confidence, and making your mark in a company where some of your colleagues may have up to 30 years of experience on you.
Although unfortunate, confidence in the workplace is often harder for women to attain than men. An interesting statistic I saw in an article from Forbes was that A Hewlett Packard internal report discovered that men usually apply for a job or promotion when they meet only 60% of the qualifications compared to women who only apply if they meet 100% of the qualifications. Society has progressed in that there are a lot more opportunities for women to feel empowered, however, we still struggle every day to make a name for ourselves in a business context. An article on Chron provided insight into this. They noted that “In order to help businesses incorporate gender equality into the workplace, the United Nations organization, UN Women, has established “Women’s Empowerment Principles,” which recommends that businesses establish gender equality goals that should be incorporated into manager performance evaluations.” Our blog’s female CEO article series highlights women who have mastered the art of confidence in order to dominate industries that are historically male-dominated. These women seemed to make it look easy, but that is certainly not the case. Therefore, I have a few ideas to help you achieve the confidence you all so rightly deserve.
- Find a female mentor in your workplace. This is a great first step when it comes to building confidence. It may seem intimidating to speak with a woman at your job who holds a higher position, but odds are she has felt the same exact things you might feel when you begin your career. Your mentor, whether official or not official, can give you some great insight as to what steps they took to earn the position that they have now. It also just helps to have a friend you can confide in during your 40-hour workweek. Having a champion in your corner who believes in you make it easier for you to believe in yourself. During one of my internships, I became close with a female colleague who was an alumnus at Virginia Tech. She encouraged me to help with various projects in the office, and thanks to this push, I gained the confidence to write an article that was eventually published on the company website. She helped me to discover my love for writing, and I wouldn’t be a part of The CWIB Chronicles without her!
- Volunteer to take on challenging projects. A reason that women may lack confidence is that we have heard throughout history that men are superior to us. We were conditioned to believe that men are bigger, stronger, and smarter. If one good thing came from that, it is that we know we have to work twice as hard to get what we want. If you take on a challenging project and it turns out successful, which will most likely be the case, your colleagues will take notice. Having other people, men or women, give you recognition for a great job is another way to feel empowered at work.
- Implement strategies to be more self-aware. We all have unique strengths and recognizing what they are ensures that we are able to implement them into our everyday lives. You should also recognize your weaknesses so that you can work to improve on them. Here at The CWIB Chronicles, us staff writers complete peer evaluations so that we can figure out what works well and what can be improved on in each of our articles. This empowers all of us to exploit what we are good at and offer suggestions to make adjustments, fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect and overall making this a great committee to be a part of.
- Have a positive attitude, especially when it is hard to do so. It is inevitable to have missteps when you are at work. Maybe you received a negative comment from a coworker, or a decision you made doesn’t pan out like you thought it would. Beating yourself up over mistakes can be detrimental to your confidence. Instead, recognize what you could’ve done better, and make sure you don’t make those mistakes again. Most importantly, exude confidence even when you do not feel confident so you can lift yourself back up!
- Be happy with your successes. Having a career can be mentally taxing and it can be hard to see all of the good that you are doing in your job. Keeping track of all of your “wins” throughout the day is a great way to show yourself that you are doing a good job and there is a lot for you to be confident about. Keep a folder in your email account with emails that relate to your successes, maintain a journal that lists out all of your achievements, and/or treat yourself to something you love after you accomplish something you’ve been working hard for! Everyone deserves to celebrate themselves every once in a while. This can be as simple as going out to dinner with friends or even sharing one of your accomplishments on social media.
Starting a new job fresh out of college is a very scary thing to do. We hope that implementing these ideas at work will make it a little less scary. By being in CWIB, you all are clearly no stranger to taking steps that will ensure a successful future in business. You’ve made it this far and have done a great job doing it, so allow yourself to see how successful you have been and will continue to be in the future!