By the time I was 15 years old, I had taken many years of dance lessons.  I heard about an opportunity at the local Y that was looking for dance instructors for 3 and 4-year-olds.  Even though I had no official certification, I thought this would be a good experience for me and it was something that I really enjoyed doing.  There was one problem…I had to call the Director of the program on the PHONE!!!

Yes, I actually had to speak to someone on the phone that I never met and I was terrified. 

Of course, this was 1985 and I had been using that rotary dial with a long stringy cord for years to talk to my friends about everything.  But this was different.  I had to be mature and sound grown-up and responsible.  What if I said something dumb or stumbled over my words?  That would be the end in my dramatic teenage mind.  I begged my mother to make the call for me and she absolutely refused.  I was hoping that maybe the Director of the program would just know how amazing I was and somehow find me.  Even better, she would just call me and say “You’ve got the job!”  Because I wanted the job more than my fear of making the phone call, I finally did it.  Of course, the conversation was much easier than anticipated because the director just told me to come in and show her a sample class.  I did and I got the job. It turns out there were no other applicants as well.

Although this is a simplified example,  the same fear still paralyzes many of our college students and recent grads today.  There is a general feeling that “I’m not good enough” or “Why would anyone want to talk to me?  I have nothing to offer”.  Of course the technology available today makes it way too easy to avoid a phone call or live meeting.  It’s much easier to Snapchat, Instagram, or text your messages.

Technology has also created this false sense of confidence with the number of “friends” or “followers” one has, but when speaking to someone face to face that same person is struggling with what to say or expects the other person to run the conversation.

Next Great Step works with many students and graduates facing those fears.  Our techniques are focused on building confidence and having a clear plan that is thought through ahead of time when speaking with someone—whether for a casual cup of coffee, informational interview, or the third round of interviews.  We make picking up the phone easy.

Ironically, my first real job was working for AT&T (also known as “The Phone Company”) and I was required to call people every day that I never met and convince them to buy something.  To learn more about how Next Great Step helps our students gain the confidence to achieve career success click here.