“The ‘I’m young & female complex’ has got to go!” This has been my daily mantra since beginning my job search two months ago.
I woke up mid-January and realized that due to my “no one in their right mind would take a gamble on a young female for an upper management position, especially in the state of the economy” complex, I was slacking off in a dead-end job. You can call it procrastinating, skimping by, milkin’ it… but the actual name is called FEAR.
Here I am, a young/female scaredy cat, unable to move forward for fear that I won’t be taken seriously. This is nonsense considering my background: I graduated in 2006 double majoring in Marketing, and International Business. I immediately got a job at a publishing company, followed by a position in the underwriting department of a Public Radio station while multi-tasking grad school (MBA completed in August 2010). It seems that on paper, I am qualified for upper management. Five solid years of experience plus a Master in Business Administration should certainly equal a position higher than Coordinator shouldn’t it? Then why don’t I feel like I deserve it?
I sell myself short. I’ve been doing it forever. It’s easy to play the tough, confident, thinks-on-her feet employee when in the spotlight, but when it comes time to apply for a job that would really raise me up and get me some street cred, I sink into my chair in my coordinator’s office and remain thankful for my measly paycheck because at least I have a job. It’s the safe zone. It’s warm and stress-free, and my bosses love me. So what’s the problem? No challenges.
The issues of challenge bring me to mention those who are internally motivated (Nicole – Ms. Career Girl), versus the externally motivated (Me). I hate that I am only motivated externally. If there’s not something in it for me (a bonus check, a pat on the back, a cookie), than my interest and efforts are never quite 100%. This is my #1 Fear Inducer. How can I pretend in an interview that I am motivated simply by doing a job well done? If I put this face on, will they know I’m a fraud?
Now it’s time for the ‘Fake it Til’ You Make it’ speech. It might not be the right way… but it is certainly a better way than fear-induced slacking. Am I scared that I won’t get taken seriously? Am I scared that I won’t live up to my fake persona? Am I even more unbelievably scared that I will actually get hired for one of these wonderful opportunities, and end up being a disaster at my job? Yes, yes, and hell yes. However, whether Faking It is wrong or mildly on the right track, it is nonetheless, an initiative.
Just recently, I somehow managed to convince a panel of phone interviewers that I had the go-getter mentality, and what do you know? I just so happened to convince myself that as well! The past few weeks since that call, I have been proactive at my happy challenge-free job; I’ve been working hard to cut out slacking from my daily routine; I started researching ways to get ahead and move towards my career goals (which led me here), and I even took the initiative to write Ms. Career Girl and display my attempts to get out of the trenches. If you as an individual try faking it and it doesn’t at least get you half a step forward, I apologize and suggest a good dose of Legally Blonde. (If Elle can get a Harvard Law degree, why can’t you?)
Good bye young/female complex. You’re history.