Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

When I meet with students who are seeking job search advice, they often express fear and anxiety – fear of the unknown (full-time employment, graduate school), fear of not being qualified, fear of rejection.  Call it what you will — anxiety, fear, self-doubt — the fact is that focusing on these feelings can holds us back from achieving the success that we crave.  There are many different ways you can work towards reducing these fears.

“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ask for support

Students sometimes have to confront their fear in order to reach out for help from a career or guidance counselor.  This fear is often that they may be judged.  Counselors get hired because they desire to support students, not criticize them.  Counselors have seen it all- students with high and low grades and students with various levels of experience.  They are there to guide you in identifying what you want to do and to support you in moving forward in your career. Do not let fear keep you from seeking the guidance you need. Utilize your counselors!  They have advice and resources that you never knew about and could be vital to your success.  If you have a bad experience with one counselor, seek out another.

Your friends and family can also be great assets to your success.  Find mentors and others who are willing to help you in your development and utilize them for advice and support. Be sure to show your appreciation in formal (thank you notes) and informal ways.

Know yourself

A key to assuaging your fears is to develop a sense of who you are and what you want to accomplish. Others cannot discover this for you.  Spend time evaluating what you like, what you value, and what your future goals are.  This will allow you to focus on what you can and want to do and not focus on your perceived shortcomings or barriers.  Once you have a goal in mind, take action. Taking even little steps can go a long way towards removing anxiety and doubt.

Examples of ways to take action to reduce career anxiety:

  • Get a volunteer or part-time position
  • Take the lead on a class project
  • Attend a class at the local library or other community organization
  • Set up an informational interview with a professional in a career you are curious about
  • Participate in an active online community with similar interests (Twitter, Facebook Group, etc.)

Work your strengths (Build your brand)

After taking action, you will begin to get a sense of what you like to do and what you are good at. These are the building blocks of your brand –  your personal strengths.  Polishing up your skills will allow you to become known as a bit of an specialist in a certain area.  Are you good at persuading people, planning events, evaluating research, or troubleshooting PC problems? Utilizing these strengths in settings inside and out of class will help you build your brand identity.  If you work hard at building your skills, people will begin to notice.

Acknowledge your accomplishments

If you never take time out to give yourself a pat on the back, you will always feel anxious that you haven’t done enough.  Take pleasure in your smaller accomplishments, such as overcoming an inhibition and you will soon gain the upper hand on self-doubt.


Lori Bielek is the Marketing and Technology Coordinator at University of Delaware’s Career Services Center where she advises students in the arts and sciences through all steps of their career development.  You can connect with Lori through LinkedIn or her UD Career Services Twitter account (@UDcareers).

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4 Responses to “Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back”

  1. Great post Lori, when I encounter stressful or anxiety filled situations, I try to find a way to have fun. Job interviews, public speaking, striding to meet new people can prove to be very stressful, yet if we can imagine that we will only get to participate in that SPECIFIC interview or speaking engagement once in our lifetime, it becomes a little easier to relax and look for a means of enjoying the situation.

    • avatar Lori Bielek says:


      Thanks so much for reading my post and commenting on it. I completely agree with you. Having fun is crucial to minimizing anxiety. I personally reduce stress by dancing or singing. It really helps.

      ~ Lori

  2. Practice, practice,practice. I have all my students roll play with me and make videos. Then they invite all their friends and family for a fun critique (and party). After practicing and evaluating over and over again, the process becomes second nature. When your true self gets comfortable you’re home free.

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