Most of us have a tendency to undervalue the experiences we gained during professional journey if it was not subject or tool specific, and I am not any different. Someone once told me I have so much life experience from the professional world worth sharing that I did not think had much value, until I started this blog. I always wanted to become a coach and mentor not realizing I already am one.
During an online talk with Nima Abu Wardeh on WomenTech Network platform a young female graduate asked how she can succeed in pursuing her dream of becoming a petroleum engineer while discouraged from doing so. I immediately reached out to her and offered a few suggestions acknowledging her request for help. What she wrote back to me showed how much value my experience has to someone else.
“That’s really educative and inspiring. I really thank you for providing me with such brilliant ideas to show myself and my worth. As a person. You gave me more motivation and even I have some new goals now. Thank you again, dear Anna.”
Encouraged by such wonderful feedback I decided to share my top 4 suggestions on following your dreams despite the discourage you might get from people dearest to you.
1. Be confident
Asking for what you deserve might feel quite uncomfortable and it is a matter of practice in building your confidence. Many years back, when I had my first unpaid internship as a condition from the university, I dared to ask for the financial reward at the end of my work. I did not have any figure in mind, and I had no expectations my request will be granted. My only goal was to admit to my boss that I believed my work was valuable and deserved financial appreciation. I prepared some questions and arguments, and practiced in front of the mirror to build up my confidence. My boss could have said “No”, since it was a non-paid internship, but he said “Yes” instead.
2. Know your worth
Have you heard that joke when a woman quits her job because she never gets any raise and her boss says “You never asked”? Knowing your own worth is one thing, showing it to the others is another. During my internship I was keeping my to-do list with tasks and achievements. I was building records of my accomplishments that at the end I presented to my boss. As Nima says, “It does not matter how smart you are if nobody knows about it.” So, say it! How else should the world know about that. Besides, achievements should go on record as this way you can quantify them and see your own worth for yourself. How much do you value your own worth?
3. Ask questions
Many people do not ask questions out of fear to appear stupid. They either start by saying “I have a stupid question, …” or wait for someone else to go first. During my first year of undergraduate studies I felt like the only student that does not understand statistics and asks questions every time we have that class. That made me very uncomfortable, until one day another student told me thank you for doing this and admitted her fears. Asking questions does not make you weak or stupid, it shows your desire to learn and succeed. When the question gets asked, information is provided. Keep in mind, a lot of information is to be paid for, so ask your questions when you get the chance. It takes skill and practice to ask good questions, but if you never ask – you never learn.
4. Seek mentors
This young graduate I mentioned earlier asked how can she prove them wrong in discouraging her from becoming a petroleum engineer, and I said – by becoming one. It takes a lot of energy proving someone wrong, whoever they are, leaving not so much energy for getting closer to your dream. Joining groups of like-minded people, networks of driven professionals, and reaching out to individuals is the best way to stay inspired and motivated. When I decided to mentor, I have chosen to offer support to those who ask for it, provide guidance for those who need it, and help develop confidence in those who lack it. My blogging in a way is a form of mentoring. To me, mentor is someone you can trust to support your dream, someone who has experience doing things both the right and the wrong way. Mentoring is not a job, it is something people do not only to help, but inspire themselves in pursuing their own dreams.