‘I am a failure,’ I’m unsuccessful,’ ‘I must be worthless’ - these are some of the things I used to tell myself after not moving on to the next stage on the application process.
After a while I stopped telling myself these things - not because I was suddenly confident, but because I stopped trying. I gave up on applying for roles that I felt suited my skills set or even jobs that allowed me to learn on the job. I started to embody my negative thoughts.
I will not lie and say that having two degrees was supposed to make getting employed easier – or so I was told – but graduating in the middle of lockdown was like placing a brick wall between me and the job market. Most of the employers sang the same tune:
‘You’re a new graduate, you don’t have enough experience.'
Trust me, that was enough to make a girl lose whatever ounce of confidence I thought I had left. My resilience dwindled, my passions fizzled and unfortunately, I think I lost me.
Stand Out was an opportunity I didn’t know I needed but took a chance on it anyway.
The programme not only gave me back my self-confidence but showed me the possibilities that I didn’t think were available in the current climate. It took me out of my head and pointed me in the direction I should have been headed all along – I should not be affected by things that are out of my control.
That not only helped me to find myself again, but it also gave me a breather and a platform to go back to ground one which was figuring out what and who I want to be when I grow up.
I’ve spent most of my life setting up for the future, for a perfect CV and to be the best candidate in the room at an interview. From volunteering in my local area since I was 9 to representing the UK globally in my late teens to early 20’s, it seems I was in a great position for a great career. However, when asked what I wanted to do as a career I couldn’t tell you - I still can’t.
A highlight for me during the programme was when I sat down in the CV 1-1 feedback session and left the session not only confused and overwhelmed. I was told I had a CV that fit about 5 different careers and almost had a panic attack. In that moment I didn’t know what to do because who knew too much career choices would make me feel like I was at stand still.
This might seem like a negative point against Stand Out but in fact works in favour of the programme because this was the moment when the coaching offered throughout the 4 weeks came in handy and I finally understood the justifications of the sessions and who is selected to assist the participants during the programme.
After mentioning how I was feeling after the CV 1-1 to our coach within my ‘homegroup’ she was able to put everything into perspective for me. What I hadn’t comprehended was that my CV didn’t leave at me at a standstill but presented me with so many possibilities.
This was my eureka moment that put everything into place. I finally understood the purpose of this programme for me. It wasn’t to tell me which career I should go in to or to have me get hired at the end of the programme (which is how I would have previously measured my success). No. It was to help me help myself. Help me to cope better after a declined application. It helped me remind myself that ‘I am not a failure’, ‘I am not unsuccessful’ and ‘I am worth it’.
That is my biggest success story from Stand Out. I no longer measure my success based on finding a ‘dream’ job that I’ll do for the rest of my life but how happy I am whilst doing a job. And if I find myself unhappy in a job, that it is okay to move on, but it also means I do not have to apply for roles with characteristics that do not align with who I am – because I am relearning who I am again.
The sky is the limit, and a flexible career future is the way forward. I am no longer terrified to apply for jobs anymore because I have been given the tools to stand out in that long pile of applications of more experienced or better educated candidates. Most importantly I know that I will no longer beat myself up if I don’t get a job because those decisions are out of my control and as long as I know I have tried my best. Stand Out taught me that if at first I don’t succeed it is ok to keep trying until I get to where I want to be.
Written by Michelle Saidi, Stand Out Participant August 2021