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“Believe in yourself, and the rest will fall into place. Have faith in your own abilities, work hard

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

Imposter syndrome. That gnawing feeling of self-doubt and incompetence coupled with the dread of being exposed as a fraud. It is estimated that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of imposter syndrome during their lifetime.

Currently, I am sitting in my room during the late hours of the night, scrolling through Linkedin, as I think to myself, how am I supposed to compete with all these other accomplished individuals? Looking at the academic and extracurricular accomplishments of my peers has made me doubt myself more than ever. I mean, how am I supposed to get into my dream university and land an internship position with all this competition? During my coffee chat with Emily, as a rising senior, I asked her a piece of advice that she would give her grade 12 self.

“Self-doubt is your greatest enemy”- Emily Liu.

Naturally, as a young person just starting to figure out what to do with your life, you will doubt yourself, your abilities, and your accomplishments. The competition will scare you. The fear of failure will scare you. However, what’s important is that you rise above your fear of failure, recognize your potential, and strive towards reaching your full potential. As Timothy Weah quotes, “With hard work and dedication, anything is possible''. Rather than solely focusing on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths. Determine which skills and experiences that you possess can help to set you apart from others, and how you can apply your skill set to various positions. Take the initiative, and don’t be afraid to reach out to others for tips, advice, and to simply just network and make connections. By overcoming self-doubt, getting your name out there, and showing your dedication, passion, and willingness to succeed, you are already one step ahead in the game.

Throughout my coffee chat with Emily, and as I work my way through the Illuminate leadership academy, I have learned the importance of setting yourself apart from other applicants, self-improvement, and networking in order to excel in the business world. With that being said, here are my 3 takeaways from my coffee chat with Emily.


1. Quality > quantity

Job positions are limited, making the competition for younger applicants with little-to-no experience fierce. Hence, in order to maximize your chances of landing the position of your dreams, setting yourself apart from other applicants is key. In a competitive job market, a quality-focused approach trumps a quantity-focused one. It’s not about how many positions you have, or how “prestigious” your role is, it is about the impact you made and what you learned from the experience. Pinpointing your accomplishments and demonstrating what you took away from that experience will give employers a glimpse at what contributions you will make to their company, and how you will apply your past learning experiences to your future position. Tailor your resume to each job description and include relevant experiences, certifications, projects, your level of expertise for soft and technical skills, and even relevant hobbies. During a job interview, the situation, task, action, and result (STAR) method is an excellent way to show your impact as it allows employers to gather all the relevant information about a specific capability that the job requires.

2. Life is a life-long learning journey

One of the most crucial qualities employers look for is the willingness to learn new skills when hiring new employees. This can be achieved through many ways such as taking courses, attending seminars, or taking on relevant volunteer roles. But most importantly, it begins with an investment made by the individual to commit to expanding their skills and knowledge. It shows employers that you are a good long-term investment and that you are a fast learner who is willing to keep your skills up-to-date. The economy and our world are changing every day, causing certain skills to be more in-demand than others. For example, technological skills are more important than ever with the emergence of AI and other modern software.

3. Networking is the key to success

In the business world, networking with others provides endless opportunities for career development and continuous improvement. Making new connections, particularly with recruiters at the company you are applying for can provide new job opportunities and may lead to advancement opportunities. By doing research beforehand, having questions prepared, and practicing active listening, you will be able to network with others effectively and make a good impression, putting you at an advantage when applying for a position. However, it is important to note that the purpose of networking is not only about trying to impress a recruiter, but it is also about the exchange of ideas. Networking gives you the opportunity to connect with experts and individuals who will be able to share their knowledge, experiences, and expertise with you! Don’t be afraid to ask them questions and for advice for your personal development. Remember, life is a life-long learning journey.


Hence, after my coffee chat with Emily, I knew exactly what I needed to do as a rising senior. As I began to apply to universities and start looking for opportunities to give me a head-start in my career, she reminded me that mistakes are meant to be learned. Failure is inevitable, but what differentiates successful people is that they take their mistakes as an opportunity to do even better. They take the initiative to expand their skill set on their own, to differentiate themselves from others, and to make the effort to expand their network and learn from their connections. Your mindset is everything. A positive mindset will lead to success, while a negative mindset will lead to failure.

As a result, a tip that I would like to share with other students who may be in the same boat is to believe in yourself. By having faith in your skills, experiences, and accomplishments, you have already fought half the battle. Recognize your potential and your aspirations, and work hard to strive towards reaching your full potential. Determine what makes you stand out from other applicants, and demonstrate your willingness to succeed through constant self-improvement. Whether that is taking courses, earning certifications, or taking on volunteering positions, and most importantly, reaching out to others for advice and getting your name out there by forming new connections. As Porter Gale once said, “Your net worth is your network”. Never be afraid to put yourself out there and take advantage of every opportunity given to you. We only learn from our mistakes.

As parting words, here is a quote to encourage students to step out of their comfort zone, “The ones who fall and get up are much stronger than the ones who never fall”.

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