As you all know, I finished my PhD this year and started my professional career. I was lucky to have gotten the only job I interviewed for, and I was especially lucky that the position wasn't filled at the beginning of the year when it was originally listed. I was so excited to be employed yet terrified at the idea of being in a new place with new people and having real responsibilities (not that grad school doesn't have responsibilities, but generally if you don't do any work, it only affects your progress and no one else's).
It's common for my self-confidence to shake a little bit when I enter a new environment. It could be any environment—the first day of school, when I take a class at a local gym, meeting new people at a conference, starting my first real job—and even if I prepare myself, I still become unsure of my knowledge, abilities, and myself in general.
There are three things I've been doing in particular to increase my confidence in my new role...
1. Dress the part
There's nothing like a new job to make it feel like your closet could use a refresh, and there's nothing like putting on a fabulous outfit to make you feel like you can take over the world!
I personally did not have much in the way of professional wear prior to starting my job, but luckily my dress code is on the casual side of business casual so I can wear the majority of my closet. Still, I've been focused on adding more "professional" pieces: blazers, tops to layer under blazers, nice outerwear, more commuter-friendly bag options, etc.
I'm still trying to nail down my perfect "professional" style, and if you're in the same boat and looking for some wardrobe guidance, there are some resources you should know about. Feel Good, Dress Better is Nicole's brainchild: a workbook about intuition-based dressing (read my initial review). Feel Good, Dress Better is centered around body positivity and dressing for the lifestyle you have. This is definitely worth picking up if you feel like you're not dressing for yourself. Anuschka Rees of former style blog Into-Mind wrote a book entitled The Curated Closet. This book is the more typical formulaic approach to personal style. This is especially helpful for those of you interested in a minimal or capsule wardrobe. For a more general, less personalized guide, Lauren Conrad's book, Style, is a great option.
When it comes to my personal appearance, I like to present my best self with about as little effort as possible. For me, that means regular grooming (not letting my hair become a nest or allowing my eyebrows to claim ownership of my face) and some light makeup so hopefully I don't look as tired as I feel. That said, life happens, and sometimes things fall to the back burner when you're busy trying to finish grad school or start a new job.
For me, one of those things that because less of a priority was my teeth. I kept Crest Whitestrips with the rest of my beauty products, but I put off using them...and my teeth weren't as white as I wish they were. If you read this post, you'd know that I have a couple of fake teeth (one implant, one crown), and it seemed like they stood out more than usual, making me feel a bit self-conscious when I smiled. Smiling is something I like to do regularly for mini-boosts of confidence, so a whiter smile was definitely on my list of things to do to increase my confidence.
Smile Brilliant reached out to me a couple of months ago about trying their at-home professional-grade teeth whitening kits. It was the push I needed to finally do something about my teeth, so I happily agreed to give it a shot!
As an FYI, I have sensitive teeth; I use Sensodyne toothpaste, and there are certain areas of my mouth I tend to avoid if I'm eating something cold because I know it will hurt. It's also been a while since I last went to the dentist, so I likely also have some small cavities that need to be filled. (I'm pretty sure my disposition to cavities is genetic, too...haha. It doesn't seem to matter whether or not I floss!) Luckily, Smile Brilliant offers a whitening kit for sensitive teeth, so that's what I received.
The T3 kit includes custom-fitted trays just like you'd use at the dentist (you're sent the products to make the molds first), nine whitening applications, and nine desensitizing applications. After completing and returning your molds, you'll wait about a week or so to receive your trays—and the best part is that all of the shipping involved is included in the price. I spent an hour whitening (due to my sensitive teeth) and a half hour desensitizing for as many nights as I could over about a four-week period (it would have ended up being about three weeks of whitening if I hadn't had work travel interrupting the sessions). At the end of it, my teeth were noticeably whiter, as you can see above!
Now I can smile, feeling confident that I'm putting my best teeth forward. ;) (It's important to note that the whitening gel doesn't penetrate artificial teeth, so there is still some difference between my real teeth and the artificial teeth.)
Smile Brilliant is giving away a T3 kit to a lucky reader (worth $139)! Follow this link to enter your name and email address by Tuesday, October 31st! (Giveaway is open to U.S., Canadian, U.K., and Australian residents.)
If you're eager to try the system yourself, I have a coupon code good for 10% off a whitening kit: cottoncashmerecathair10 (no expiration date!). Please let me know if you have any questions about the product or process!
3. Trust your training...and yourself
Remember, you were hired for a reason! Keep reminding yourself that you are capable of fulfilling the duties asked of you and that you have the ability to learn new things. Most importantly, don't be afraid to not know everything there is to know about your job. Everything will come in time.
Alissa nailed it when she wrote about doubting your doubt and not yourself. Imposter syndrome is real and it doesn't seem to go away, even in the workplace. I struggle with this often! A new start should make you feel empowered versus overwhelmed by the thoughts of not being as good as you truly are. Remind yourself of that when the negative thoughts creep in.
If you're looking for more tips on how to gain confidence at work, look no further than Alissa's exact post on the topic. (Tip: If you're not following her, you should be! ;)) These posts are relevant even if you're not yet a working professional.
Do you have any other tips for gaining confidence when you start a new job?
You got this, lady! *insert praise hands emoji*
Please note that I received complimentary product for the purpose of this post but no other monetary compensation. As always, all views are my own!