Our office is composed of many women in leadership positions, which is a trend that flows up to the acting Undersecretary. This has been very empowering, as it has created a very supportive environment for professional development. There are a lot of strong personalities in my office, and I’ve learned quite a lot from observing them in how they interact with each other and with others. I am also very grateful for being taken under the wing of some of these amazing ladies; they’ve been very encouraging, but also brutally honest when providing me not just career advice, but also insightful life advice, as well.
In no particular order are pieces of advice and observations about me that I’ve collected over the summer:
- First impressions are really important. Upon reflection, I think I come off as a bit reserved when I first meet people professionally. Being a bit more excited and open can really change someone’s perception of me.
- I have a customer service voice. People that observe me can tell how comfortable I am with someone by how my voice is pitched. I’m trying to change that so it’s not as obvious.
- I need to relax and live a little. Someone characterized my work personality like an onion. I wrap my self up and it takes a lot for me to reveal deeper layers. Separating personal and professional is key, but I also need to show people who I am, otherwise, they think I have no personality.
- Just say sorry once. I say sorry too often, and it can come off as annoying and sometimes insincere. I have to work on only saying sorry when it’s necessary.
- I need to be more assertive and not be afraid to take up space or stand up for myself. I think this relates partially to my own insecurities.
- Confidence is key. If you don’t have it, fake it until you make it.
Looking at these now, I can say that most of these habits stem from my feelings of inadequacy in regards to my lack of experience. I also have a tendency to compare myself to the other intern in my office, who is 7 years older than me and is pursuing his masters in public policy from a very reputable institution. I forget that it’s not constructive to compare myself to others, because my only competition is myself, and I have to push myself to be the best me I can be each day. It’s very helpful to be able to better understand myself and and troubleshoot how I present myself to the world, and I’ll definitely apply these lessons learned going forward!