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Episode Transcript

One of those things that you just can’t get enough of is confidence. It’s so essential to your career success as a woman engineer. 

And yet it’s so fickle. One day it’s a positive force in your work performance. And the next day it eludes you at every turn.

Ironically it’s your confidence that got you this far. It got you into – and through – engineering school. It got you into the working world, and into your current job. 

Even so, it’s hard for women engineers to maintain confidence in a work environment that tends to be more masculine and less flexible.

Today I have insights to share that will help you secure the confidence you need. To help you gain the risk toleranceresilience and persistence to continue strong progress in your engineering career.

When Your Confidence in Your Engineering Career Wavers

If I asked you to tell me about a time when your confidence wavered at work, you could probably rattle off a bunch of stories. Times when you felt you lacked engineering ability or suffered imposter syndrome.

In engineering you can get caught up in this philosophy that values natural ability over effort.

It’s a myth that you lack natural engineering ability. What does that even mean? No one’s born an engineer. It’s a learning process the whole way. And you’ve already demonstrated your ability to learn. 

When you doubt yourself, you focus more on failures than successes. And this whole train of thoughtundermines your sense of belonging. It’s a downward spiral. 

It’s hard to not let your mind dwell there. It’s hard to manage imposter syndrome and your inner critic. And it gets harder to avoid saying “I can’t do it.”

But here’s the thing: The idea that you can’t do it is just that. An idea. 

There’s also the idea that you can. I say go with that one.

What Saying Yes Means in Your Engineering Career

I have a memory of the onsite interview I had for my first job out of college. As a manufacturing supervisor. 

It was in the microelectronics industry. Processing silicon chips in a cleanroom environment. All of which I knew nothing about.

Yet in the interview when I was asked “do you think you can do this job?” I said yes. 

I said it firmly. And tried to portray a no-doubt-in-my-mind-whatsoever attitude. I’m sure my inner critic was laughing. 

You see, somewhere someone advised me to be confident in this way. Whoever it was gave me that you-can-do-it encouragement. Be bold, they said, and know that you can handle the challenge.

And so when I heard the question, I knew what the answer had to be. Even if I didn’t feel it at the time. 

I got the job. And I learned how to do it. And I did fine. It was a great start to my career.

Saying yes didn’t mean I knew exactly how to ace this job. It meant I have skills to apply, an ability to learn, and the ambition to give it my best shot. That’s all.

Saying yes means going with the idea that you can do it.

3 Practices to Maintain Strong Confidence in Your Engineering Career

So I learned a good lesson in confidence early on. But I can’t say my confidence never wavered through the rest of my career. It’s been pretty much a constant struggle.

But I’ve since learned some effective confidence practices that I’ll share with you now. Here are 3 ways you can instill more confidence in yourself as an engineer and leader:

  1. Confidence is a frame of mindBelieve that you can learn and have the ability to figure things out.Then take action – such as the following two – to strengthen your frame of mind. 

Each action builds courage and results in more confidence.

  1. Spend your time with energetic people who encourage your creativity and growth. Stay away from negative people and avoid underminers. 

Cultivate a support system of peers. Find mentors who will push you, provide perspective, and give you honest feedback.

  1. Put yourself in a position where you can grow. Don’t be afraid to try a new task, challenge or role. Remember you don’t have to meet all the requirements to apply. 

Seek growth over comfort – in other words, don’t stay stuck in a comfortable role. Instead get out of your box and start believing you can accomplish whatever you choose.

Try these practices out. Build them into your career strategy. There’s no question they’ll work in your favor to improve your confidence. 

And when your engineering career has a foundation of confidence there’s no limit to what you’ll accomplish.

For more ideas on building confidence, check out my guide “4 Steps to Start Commanding Greater Influence and Impact as a Woman Engineer.” Get your free copy here.

Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast, we’ll explore the Magic 4 and all the ways it can help you in your engineering career. Don’t miss Episode 94.