I was one of the 85% of women who lacked confidence. You may know how it feels to live without confidence. I cried during my childhood, because in my mind I was ugly compared to my classmates and friends.
I made wrong choices just because of my lack of confidence, which was directly related to my self-esteem. I got married to someone I did not love and chose poor life because I thought I did not deserve a luxurious life. Now I feel confident enough even in uncomfortable situations. My confidence is not there yet, but it is enough to express myself the way I want.
To cut a long story short, I applied for a full scholarship. I got selected as a semi-finalist. I used to fail at interviews. Unlike Kyrgyzstan, in the US, it is all about promoting yourself, and share with interviewers how different you are from other candidates. I had to do these three things to gain confidence at interviews:
- Research how to be successful at interviews with American scholars and officials
- Meet online and in-person with my friends who studied in the US
- Go out and practice in real situations.
In 2011, my short-term contract with UNDP (United Nations Development Programs) was over, and I decided to submit my resume to about 30 companies, whether I was interested or not. I had to change my resume every time to make sure that my choice of words and skills were there, which was what a respective company was looking for. Maybe 12 companies called me for in-person interviews. That was my goal, which is, to have a real setting with real interviewers and have real questions. I wanted to get comfortable in these uncomfortable situations, and have a relaxed conversation with no pressure and no stress. After each interview, I self-reflected to see what was good and what was bad. I reflected everything: interviewers, questions, my behaviors, and gestures. Sometimes I felt good about myself, sometimes, I felt bad. But each time, it was a great lesson for me to do better for the next time. My answers were sometimes wrong and sometimes correct; sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. One interview after another, made me feel confident at interviews.
Finally, I got hired by the nonprofit organization that I really wanted to work for, the UN Women (The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women).
And in four months or so, I got an email with the final results of my last interview for getting a full scholarship to study social work in one of the best universities in the US, out of 300 or more candidates.
Miracles do happen, just believe in yourself!
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