Your 20s: Confidence at Work

Thursday, May 24, 2012

office meeting room (Dwonderwall/flickr)

Each week in May, Meg Jay, clinical psychologist, assistant clinical professor at the University of Virginia, and author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now, looks at different aspects of life in your twenties. This week: how some twentysomethings struggle at work when they are employed.


Meg Jay

Comments [10]

Ann from NJ

Inner confidence is essential. Seeking it from outside sources is not going to get you there. Trust and believe in yourself! If you are curious and work hard, you will learn and be successful.

In my 20s, I had an abusive boss (in the non-profit industry) who undermined, belittled and "jokingly" threatened me any chance he got. I worked very hard and loved my job, so didn't want to leave. I also lacked confidence and that experience took a real toll on me. Looking back, I should have left the a lot sooner. (My fantasy was to sue him for creating a hostile work environment.)

May. 24 2012 12:30 PM
The Truth from Becky

Not only does she copy my name, she now wants to mirror my sentiments. Ahh well, I guess the goal is the same. Good Luck to you young people, be original in your creativity, much success.

May. 24 2012 12:04 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

1. I recently got a job through networking. The person who got me a job is of a completely different ethnic group than I, but he recognizes my abilities and got me a job that uses those abilities. Networking means that you are meeting people of all ethnic groups and in varying fields and you should be recognized for your abilities rather than anything else, so make sure people know about those.

2. I am not a 20-something, but I often have trepidation about jobs I take. I think that nowadays, people in general are much more volatile, and that extends to the workplace as well as real life. There are so many facets of working life, that putting up with employers' emotional turmoil is just another pain in the posterior. Your best bet is to be capable of doing the job you have applied for, doing it to the best of your ability, and learning something new each day. Keep your nose to the grindstone and out of peoples' personal issues and you should be fine.

May. 24 2012 11:59 AM

I disagree with the woman about confidence coming from outward in on the job. I think people who have an inner confidence can navigate or get out of an unhealthy work situation better than someone who is lacking in confidence. I feel for Danielle. My first job out of college was in a "war zone" atmosphere (think The Devil Wears Prada but not in the fashion biz). It took me three years to get the courage to leave that place but it scarred me for years (I am now in my 40s). My niece also took a job out of college in a war zone situation but, she had the confidence to get out after a few months. I hope Danielle is like my niece and not me. Don't keep trying to please abusive bosses. They are mentally ill. Get out now.

May. 24 2012 11:59 AM
mwong from nyc

sounds like to me these 20-somethings are big complainers. my parent never had a choice in vocation but work what was available to support family. i've benefitted from that and did get to choose my vocation. i had no handbook and limited sources of advice. as i fumbled my way through my job, i learned along the way even though it was uncomfortable and extracted what i need and got confidence from having climbed over obstacles. buck up pampered kids

May. 24 2012 11:58 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

This conversation is so foreign to my past experience in my 20's. On one hand, I had already done 3 separate internships in my field, so getting a "real job" was no different, and no more stressful, than having an internship, save for the fact I was getting paid. I find it really hard to believe that 20-somethings today are that ill-prepared for the workforce.

Also, in terms of being very "specific" about what kind of job you want to do - I don't think this is always good advice. I found that working different jobs within an industry gave me a much better idea of what "specific" job I was suited for. It's perfectly OK to start out your professional life just getting any job, but then learning what is really suited for your skills and personality. There is so much pressure put on young people to define themselves professionally, immediately - and I think this is an unhealthy approach.

May. 24 2012 11:55 AM
The Truth from Becky

20s know this...the people you are working with/for were one 20s even though they may forget it as the world makes you cynical. It may be your first job but not your last. Have confidence while you're there and do the best job you can do!

May. 24 2012 11:54 AM

I'm in my mid twenties and have been working for 5 years at what I had thought was my dream job as an engineer in renewable energy. Unfortunately, due mainly to politics, what was once a great industry is now rapidly dying. It pains me to see this happening to my industry and my country. It's making me disgusted at what's going on and causing me to be more and more political. Now I'm sick of my job and don't know what to do. Going into politics seems like a frustrating dead end, but it seems like the only thing other than corporate dollars that gets any visibility in this country. Is there any way that someone my age with my abilities can get a job doing good for the betterment of the US and the world?

May. 24 2012 11:53 AM
John A.

Sven, I think the Colleges want an essay from you on why you will not drop out again this time.

May. 24 2012 11:33 AM
Sven from Manhattan, NY

I'm in my early twenties, working as lead analyst for a medium sized digital media start-up in Manhattan. I never graduated college, dropping out of a small, highly regarded liberal arts college in New England after two years. This Spring I re-applied to colleges and was rejected by every university. Is my professional experience meaningless to academia? How can I feel confident at work if I can't see a real future for my career without a degree?

May. 24 2012 11:23 AM

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