In today’s competitive job market and fast-paced world, having self-belief is more important than ever. It can often feel like colleagues, peers, and those we admire from our industries have it in spades, but is that really true? We spoke to some of our successful alumni about career confidence and asked them to share their tips and tricks for feeling fearless and being bold in your career.
Shreya Sharma (LLB 2021) is an ambitious young entrepreneur and TEDx speaker. She successfully built a legal aggregator platform, Rest The Case which strives to make legal information and services more accessible to people in India. Here are two tips Shreya wished she had known at the start of her career:
Believe in yourself
This may sound like a cliché, but it is the crux of starting anything new. The most important part of making something happen is believing that you can make that thing happen. I started my company at a young age and had this constant nagging question of whether I was actually capable of doing the things I wanted to do. That’s when I came across the phenomenon ‘Impostor Syndrome.’ This can affect anyone and can cause feelings of self-doubt or feeling undeserving of your success. What I have come to realise is that the only way to overcome this is to believe in your efforts, take a second to reflect on your achievements, and always look forward. Believing in yourself is not something you achieve overnight, it’s a process that you need to work on every day. As you face new challenges, belief is what will keep you going.
Have passion and purpose
- Passion – I have always been told by my grandfather, “do what you love, and you will never have to work a single day in your life” and I live by this every day. I love going to work and love putting in the hours. Passion will ensure nothing stops you from achieving your goals.
- Purpose – It’s important to know why you are doing something and why that thing is important to you. When you have a purpose, it sets you in the right direction. I have tried to inculcate the method of goal setting within my business no matter how big or small. This has made achieving my goals easier because I can then work in a clear direction.
Got a question for Shreya? You can connect on Cardiff Connected.
After her studies at Cardiff University, Anita Gohil-Thorp (LLB 1993) went onto the University of Law, Guildford. She now works as a professionally certified career and diversity employability coach, trainer and mentor. She partners with high achieving professionals, supporting them to thrive in the workplace. These are her top tips to always keep in mind:
Celebrate your achievements
When starting out in my career, I wish I’d realised that all of my achievements and skills counted as much as anyone else’s. The job market is so competitive, it’s easy to be very self-critical. We tend to focus on what others are doing or have achieved, that we have not; however, by genuinely being proud of our own achievements, we can have greater confidence as we enter the working world.
The power of networking
Early on my career, I wish I’d known that networking is about making connections with like-minded people, and that having self-belief when you do so, makes the experience much more rewarding. When we shift our mindset to what networking can offer us and others beyond selling, it feels more accessible and less scary. Many people at all levels of seniority can find networking intimidating, but embracing the opportunity to find new friends or work partners can be genuinely enjoyable and boost your self-confidence.
Megan Wesley (BA 2015) is co-founder and director at Libratum, a ‘wellness in the workplace’ company she established with her mum. Megan shares her words of wisdom for being career confident.
Don’t be afraid to change career path
Accepting and adapting to change is not a simple feat, but it’s perfectly OK to change your career path if it’s not working for you. Making a transition to a new career can feel scary, but it is an opportunity to discover something that you love to do. The average person in Britain spends 84,365 hours working over their lifetime, so it’s important you find a career that makes you feel excited and fulfilled, even if that means a few twists and turns on the way.
You don’t have to accept bad culture
It is difficult to thrive and feel confident in a company with poor culture. Whatever industry you work in, if your core values don’t align to the company culture, it can create a toxic working environment. If you find yourself in a toxic workplace, you can vote with your feet and choose to find a workplace that is more supportive and better suited to you. There are so many fantastic workplaces out there, who really care and support their employees, encourage creativity and open communication, so don’t feel that you have to accept bad working environments.
Anjana Nathwani (BSc 1983) is a Business Psychologist with global experience spanning 35 years. She has held senior leadership roles, worked as a consultant and owned her own business. A two-time cancer ‘thriver’, she now works with patients and survivors. She is also a yoga teacher, Ayurveda practitioner and Mindfulness coach. She blogs frequently and has co-authored two books. As a mentor herself, Anjana shares what she would have found beneficial to know as a student, especially for those who have studied non-vocational degrees:
When I was starting out, I’d have liked more clarity on the options that were available to me and how to specialise further. Whilst I was interested in Clinical Psychology, I felt the Western approaches were not aligned to my belief systems. Of course, since then programmes have been revitalised and are more intercultural now, but exploring your options is key to enjoying and feeling confident in your career path.
Identifying the right referees
In one interview, I was fortunate enough that an employer shared that part of a reference they received highlighted that I was a shy person; and they found me to be the opposite. Similarly, when starting out I asked a lecturer who knew me to be my referee. Identifying contacts that you have a good relationship with, who can highlight your strong points is really critical as many of my potential employers took up references before the interview, and I was surprised as to why I was not being called for interviews prior to this.
The Cardiff University community are a helpful bunch, here to help you get ahead in your chosen career. You can browse through their advice and top tips on a wide range of business topics in our ‘Bossing It’ series.