contributed by Jenny S. Rebholz [writer / marketing consultant / designer / instructor / mentor / networking machine]
Do you believe in yourself and your capabilities as a designer” Many students find low self-confidence hard to overcome. If you don’t believe in yourself, then how will you convince an employer that you are right for a job” Finding a healthy level of self-confidence can be difficult, but if you think back to Goldilocks and the three bears, then you will realize that it is important to find a balance between too hot and too cold.
The Right Attitude
Too Hot: I am the best! I was top of my class; everybody loved my work… sound familiar” Nobody likes a know-it-all. If you think you are too good for most people, then it is time for a reality check. There is too much for you to learn for you to be a know-it-all.
The best designers continue learning on a daily basis. The worst thing an entry level designer can do is start their new job with a superior attitude. You are not too good for the library, you are not too good to answer the phones, to make a few copies, to pull together some finish boards. You have a lot to learn, and just like everyone else, you have to pay your dues. You do have value to bring to the team; if you didn’t, you would not have been hired. However, you need to maintain a positive, helpful, team-player attitude. Don’t get too big for your britches.
Too Cold: I don’t know anything! I’m not good enough, I can’t talk to people, and I always make mistakes… does this sound familiar” Being meek and afraid is just as bad as being a know-it-all. Your future employers will want you to take initiative and be confident enough to take on a challenge. If you are afraid to make a mistake or interact with the team, then they will wonder why they hired you.
Those with low self-confidence have a tendency to keep their thoughts to themselves, speak in low, timid voices, and have a slumped posture. If you don’t know an answer, do you know how to research to find it” That is what is important, your ability to problem solve, be flexible, roll with the punches, and handle a variety of situations. If you think you will fail, then you will. The “glass is half empty” is not the approach you want to take. You need to believe in yourself, or you can’t expect others to believe in you.
Just Right: When you have the perfect level of confidence, you know that no matter what is thrown at you, you will do your best. You have the confidence to research to find the right answer and to ask questions when you don’t understand. Being confident means you can admit when you make a mistake and take the initiative to be a part of the solution to the problem.
It is understandable that everyone has good days and bad days or that a personal situation may have you feeling a little blue. Someone with good self-confidence will rise to the challenge at work and face the day. He or she will realize that although today is not going their way, there is always tomorrow.
The Right Environment
Part of feeling confident is putting yourself in the right situation. As you proceed through school and embark on your job search, think about your strengths and weaknesses. You want to accentuate the positive and find a work environment that will utilize your strongest skills. You also need an environment that makes you feel comfortable enough to overcome your weaknesses.
How do you interact with others” Will you get lost in a large company, or will you feel too “on the spot” in a small one” Think about the type of environment that will be nurturing for you and make you feel good about yourself.
The worst thing you can do is put yourself in an uncomfortable work environment or stay in one. Your self-confidence will impact how you interact with clients and coworkers, and it will impact your job performance.
Surrounding yourself with good people and putting yourself in a safe environment will start you off on the right foot in your career and build your self-confidence.
When it comes to self-confidence, the best advice is to be yourself. But the key is, you have to believe in yourself! Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, that is what makes you uniquely you. Be proud of who you are and what you have to offer. No matter your design education and experience, you cannot be successful unless you have confidence. You have to have faith in your abilities, stand tall, and be proud of who you are. Working on your self-confidence will make you more successful in school, in your career, and in your life.
I believe in each and every one of you — I believe that there is something special that every reader of this article has to offer the design community. The question is, do you believe it”