Standing in the main hallway of an unfamiliar school, on Wednesday I found myself surrounded by unfamiliar people. The annual Business Symposium for ISM students in my school district brought together many students and professionals for a great experience in networking and interview practice. As like most experiences so far in ISM, for as invaluable as it ended up being, it began with a pit of nerves in my stomach.
Before our rotations began, students and professionals were encouraged to meet and get to know each other. With that, my friend and I shared a comment about just how afraid we were to introduce ourselves to complete strangers. That said, though, almost all the other students in the hallway seemed to be in clumps with people they knew. It became clear that we were all nervous to initiate conversations.
Knowing that I was not the only person afraid of introducing myself and initiating conversations made the afternoon significantly easier. I was in the same boat as a hundred other students, which was incredibly comforting. After discussing my journey so far in ISM and listening to those of other students gave me confidence walking into my first mock interview.
Despite having done interviews for different programs and summer jobs, I have to say that I always walk in afraid of coming across as an awkward teenager. As I approached an interview table, I frantically ran through distinctive facts about myself in preparation to be asked to describe myself. Little did I know at the moment, that after three mock interviews I would have memorized a default anecdote about overcoming a fear of public speaking. After each interview, I walked into the next with more confidence than I began with, and for as scared as I was at the beginning of the symposium, I was that much more comfortable with approaching people in a professional setting and having a meaningful conversation with them. Going into the Business Symposium afraid of meeting a multitude of students and professionals, and ending it with the confidence to introduce myself to a complete stranger helped me with more than just my personal skills. As I conduct more in-depth research, I feel like I now have more confidence to post more of my personal thoughts on political trends and events, while still remaining professional.