During Winter Break, I got the email every business major dreams of. I’d been selected to interview for Facebook’s competitive sophomore internship program, Facebook University. I’d never felt such excitement about my future before.
I prepared perfectly—or so I thought. I researched company history, culture, and current events—I even knew exactly how much money they made last year because I’d memorized their balance sheet. I read tens of interview results on Glassdoor and tried to really picture myself in the intern role to better answer my interview questions. On the plane ride, I scanned articles from other Facebook interns and asked a former intern all she could tell me about the program. Prepared would have been an understatement.
After having a great night’s sleep the night before the interview, I woke up early, ate a balanced breakfast and curled my hair so I felt ready for the big day. I made the effort to wear an outfit that said “simple, efficient, serious, but not stuffy” so that I’d feel like I fit. Here’s a Snapchat photo to prove it.
I felt so welcomed at Facebook Headquarters. They paid so much attention to detail to make sure we were accommodated. We even had the Vice President of Operations speak to us about how important her last seven years had been with the company. Everyone I met radiated authenticity and genuine kindness. To be completely honest, I was in awe that I had even been selected to be there.
Our recruiter, Gwen, told us that the 22 interviewees there were selected out of over 2000 applicants and that we deserved to be there.
That’s when it hit me—I wasn’t confident in my professional abilities.
For those of us with the good ol’ anxiety bug, we know that sayings like this not only make ourselves question our abilities even more, but make us attempt to overcompensate for problems others don’t see in us.
After this, I felt pretty unsettled, and it definitely wasn’t my best interview as I was more nervous than I’ve ever been before. In hindsight, I think the main reason I wasn’t offered the internship is because I seemed somewhat unsure of myself. I was saying the things I thought recruiters wanting to hear, instead of putting a professional twist on what came from the heart.
This taught me that confidence is the key to success in the professional world. When you’re confident, you don’t spend time compartmentalizing yourself so that you appear perfect, you’re just the best human you can be because you know that’s all people should expect from you. When you’re confident, you subconsciously put your best foot forward at all times because you know what you believe in, so you don’t have to overanalyze small decisions. When you’re confident, it radiates around you and people are drawn to your opinions and ideas. Confident people produce better results—point blank, period.
While it seems like a simple solution, confidence doesn’t come easy to everyone. It can be especially difficult to believe in yourself if you’re consistently in a competitive environment, such as a top school or a great company.
Here are some tips on improving professional confidence:
- Be self-aware. Knowing yourself comes before anything. If you combine your natural talents with your passions, you’ll always be great!
- Think positively. When you approach situations with a positive attitude and an open mind, you will easily come up with innovative and creative solutions to problem solving. Negative thinking can leave you stuck in a counterproductive box.
- Read my blog. Just kidding. Kinda. Do take the time to read though. The lessons we learn through literature are sometimes more powerful than we think. Apply what you learn in the workplace.
- Go out of your way to help others. When you take the time to help your colleagues, they will remember how good it made them feel. In addition to what that will do for your network, they’ll recognize your strengths and help you improve on your weaknesses, helping your growth and professional progress.
- Be passionate. Make sure you’re doing what you love. While there are aspects in every workplace that are menial and tedious, your passion for your job will overpower the weight of the things you don’t want to do for work. You’ll always be best at what you’re passionate about.
As for me? I’ll be interning this summer with Kellogg in Philadelphia, PA. I’m not discounting Facebook my junior year, though. 🙂