Know Yourself, Know Your Worth
Going into graduate school, I had a clear vision of where I wanted my career path to take me and how I would accomplish my goals. It wasn’t until recently that I took the time to focus more on self-awareness.
Knowing not just your personality, but understanding how you think and act is just as important as knowing your passions and goals.
Essay questions and interviewers will often ask you about your strengths and weaknesses, your leadership style, or how your work in a team. For me, I used to believe I needed to be more social and expressive in order to be successful, and always saw my introversion as a weakness. Once I understood my strengths as thoughtful, precise, and analytical, I was able to change what I once perceived as a weakness and gain confidence without feeling the need to change myself.
Being able to thoroughly answer questions like these will improve your self-awareness and help you to thrive professionally and academically.
Knowing yourself also means knowing how to engage in self-care.
Sometimes as students, we forget we are also people and need to take time away from our work. Especially in periods when we have multiple deadlines approaching, it’s easy succumb to the notion that we always need to be productive and feel guilty when we’re not. Being in an environment where people are always working, I frequently felt that I wasn’t doing enough.
Once I realized that I had to stop comparing myself to others, I was able to relieve a lot of stress and anxiety. It’s important to remember that all of your time does not need to be spent working, and self-care is necessary for well-being or you can experience burn-out. Spend your free time in ways that fulfill you. Whether it’s finding a hobby or just relaxing, remember your health is vital to your success so find what you need and what that means for you.
When I first began graduate school, I experienced a common sense of “imposter syndrome”. I thought I did not belong or deserve to be there.
When I was able value my experiences without comparing myself to my peers, I was able to gain comfort in embracing my accomplishments.
Being comfortable with your achievements also means being able to speak on them. Self-promotion is necessary for progress. In interviews or any networking environment, it’s important to be able to speak about yourself and what your passions are, as it can lead to invaluable connections.
However, this does not mean you should be giving a monologue when you’re networking. Having the ability to express your interests and goals in a concise way is a valuable skill, as I often get asked what I want to do or what my goals are. I have learned that most people enjoy talking about themselves, so it’s useful to ask questions about other people’s journeys and interests.
As a person who hates small talk, I have learned not to feel pressured to speak to as many people as possible at networking events. One meaningful connection or conversation can be worth much more than a lot of insignificant ones. If you’re speaking about your passion, the conversation should come easily.
Don’t feel forced to talk with everyone because you think you have to or it can be awkward and uncomfortable. If you are able to find someone who shares your interests or a conversation on a topic you are interested in, it is much more valuable.
Embrace yourself, know what you love, and speak your truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Evan Mitchell is a JTG Contributor. She is from Baltimore City and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Spanish and Public Health. Currently, she is an MPH student at Columbia University in the Department of Health Policy and Management. She hopes that sharing her experiences and advice will help guide others on this journey just tryna' graduate.