advice, future is female, personal development, women in technology

Why I’m Ignoring Negative Feedback

Honestly, I’ve been feeling anxious lately. Impostor syndrome is such a buzzword in this space that I’m not even going to use it!

The “post-university void”, as lovingly coined by my friends, is a bizarre place. Even more so when you graduated in a global pandemic.

Rather than being worried I don’t belong, it’s more of a challenge in having faith that I’m carving out the right career path for myself.

Something I’ve just started to build out, which has been really helpful, is a positive feedback document.

By contrast to my last post about rejection, this is a folder literally just of things that have gone well. The planned, the unexpected, the miraculous – it’s all coming together in one place.

Wait, why?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a learning opportunity. Constructive criticism has helped me to grow my skill set, and give me areas to work on.

However, especially amongst junior women, we have a tendency to overlook or discount our successes, and obsess on negative pieces of feedback. It can also be hard to stay grounded on what you’ve achieved, especially when everything moves at pace.

For this reason, in the short term, I’m putting my personal development goals to one side and reflecting upon what has gone well over the past year.

What does that look like?

My “counter-balance” GDoc has five columns – the positive feedback, who it was from, why they said it (aka the context), my thoughts, and when it was.

This helps me to reconnect with what I was doing at the same, remember that relationship, and reflect on how I helped others.

How has that helped?

First of all, it’s a great reminder that when I set my mind to it, I can do some pretty cool things!

It’s also a list of the brilliant people that I have worked with over the past few years, and helps show that I have more support than I think.

On a personal level, it’s helped me to see key themes across my feedback, and to identify my strengths.

For example, some recurring topics include:

  • Proactive and self-led approach to learning
  • Inclusive and warm leadership
  • Going above and beyond for others

Finally, it’s made me prioritise giving others positive feedback when I can, and ensuring that I show my appreciation when I notice someone do a great job.

Altogether, this has helped me to become more confident and self-aware, which puts me in a stronger position to learn from constructive feedback and learn new things.

Is this an exercise you’d try? If you’re curious about doing the same, feel free to drop me a message!

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advice, future is female, personal development

Dear Sir/Madam: Please Reject This Application

Earlier this week, I had an interview for a volunteer role at an internationally-recognised social action group. I had some big ideas about how we could democratise tech education here in London, and work with others to achieve that.

It was a close call, but ultimately, they went with another candidate. Ouch.

However, what was most surprising to me were the reactions from my close friends.

You get rejections?

I get rejections all the time. I’ve got more “unfortunately” auto-filled templates in my inbox than I have Facebook friends.

I’ve had a lot of amazing opportunities in my early career. I’m active online, so these have ended up scattered all over the place.

I also like to be open about what I’m doing, because young women in particular struggle to speak up about their achievements and don’t post about them.

But let me say right now, it would be impossible without the flurry of rejections I get every month.

You name an email rejection softener, I’ve had it. Every time an email comes in, I get ready to scroll through the familiar words.

For example, people love the story of my transition into technology. However, as part of that process in late 2020, I received over 50 rejections for a variety of positions.

But even with this, I think that people understand that rejection is a key part of the graduate process.

So, beyond the job hunt, I’ve been turned down for:

  • Speaking engagements
  • Presentations
  • Flatshares
  • Volunteering roles
  • Tryouts
  • Universities
  • Courses
  • Awards

And that’s just off the top of my head…

It’s to the point that I could probably paper a wall or three, or give a compelling spoken word performance of the best one-liners.

Why am I sharing this?

  1. My social media presence has meant that I’ve helped 100+ individuals in their career journey, but I’ve found that I often won’t discuss the above until we’re on a one-on-one call. That seems ironic when it’s been such a huge part of my own journey to date.
  2. By and large, these decisions have helped me to become more resilient and less fearful!
  3. I want to keep myself accountable and normalise the process of “failure”.
  4. The flipside of these rejections are the opportunities I’ve had – if this helps someone else to go for it, it’s been worth my while!
  5. Rejection isn’t weakness or an assessment of worth. I’ve done some great things and can’t wait to see what’s next.

Ultimately, if I’m not being rejected, I’m not exploring outside of my comfort zone.

And if I’m not doing that, I could be overlooking a whole world of opportunities.

It’s taken a lot of work to cultivate this mindset, and it’s not a linear journey. Sometimes it’s tough, and I wonder what I’m doing most days. I also don’t trivialise the very real struggles that the job market and economy can present at the moment; this is a reflection on how missing opportunities has helped me to build stronger going forward.

So, with that in mind, I’m excited for my next rejection.

Looking forward to being the second-choice candidate again sometime soon!

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