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Tell Your Story
Learning to talk about yourself with confidence is a life skill, and essential for developing your voice, your body of work, and your career.
We all know how powerful it is to enter into well written books, games, or movies, or be enraptured by a skilled and seasoned comedian, podcast host, or TeD talk. Some students may feel at ease talking about themselves and the context of how or where they gained their knowledge, skills, and abilities, while others may not have had a lot of practice.
Culture, gender or painful past experiences, may also add to why this might not feel “natural” for you - and you may even have negative or limited beliefs when it comes to talking about yourself.
Storytelling is a craft, like anything else, and with time, attention, and coaching, you can become skilled at it too. Here are some tips and guidelines for ways to share your story effectively.
Having an elevator pitch or introduction ready, will give you courage and confidence when you are doing career or project research.
Begin with an introduction: your name, education and training, and skills and experiences
Mention the specific strengths or accomplishments you have
Use descriptive words and visual language to bring the listener into your world
Make the bond between your story and the listener’s values, mission, or need
WHAT SHOULD YOU HIGHLIGHT?
Highlighting transferable skills from courses, projects and other experiences will begin to inform you as to what you are interested in, and the kinds of work or workplaces you want to belong to.
Review your course syllabus to identify the skills you have been able to learn each semester and record the skills you have developed. Or, make a note to yourself to work on those areas so you can feel more confident.
Note which courses or projects can be described as a case-study or a scenario that had challenges and outcomes to learn from and can add to your portfolio or career stories.
If you lack direct work experience in the field you want to enter, focus on relational skills like communication, problem-solving, teamwork, adaptability, and collaboration, that you would have gained during your studies.
Look for opportunities to volunteer or begin to expand your capacity to gain relevant experience.
Do some background research (such as an informational interview) to gain knowledge, such as language specific to the industry. Even though you don’t have years of experience, you will begin to see and sound like an insider!
THE STAR METHOD
Similar to interview answers to situational questions, the STAR method is an easy and effective structure to follow for sharing your accomplishments in the framework of a story. Set it up, speak about any results, and what you learned, positively and meaningfully.
Situation, Task, Action, Result can help you structure a story.
S - describe the situation or challenge you faced
T - explain the specific task you needed to accomplish
A - detail the actions you took to address the situation
R - share the positive results or outcomes of your efforts
Storytelling is a skill that improves with practice. You can get practice by attending campus networking events and practicing good communication skills such as listening, writing, and having conversations with people outside your immediate circle. The power of knowing you made a positive impression on a potential employer, co-workers, funders, or collaborator, is very exciting. Good luck!
TIPS TO HELP TELL YOUR STORY
Seek feedback from friends, family, or a career educator to edit and share your best stuff in the context of an interview, casual conversation or targeted career research.
Tailor your stories for the listener, to show your enthusiasm and fit. This can really make a difference, especially if it is genuine.
Employers appreciate candidates who share their values; let them know that you do, too.
Be authentic, and avoid exaggeration or fabricating achievements.
The value of communicating well about yourself will help you build value and confidence in all areas of your life. Check out the resume, portfolio, or interviews pages to put these into action.