25 January 2024

How to Thrive Outside Your Comfort Zone

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Ahh! You’ve been asked to present at an event during your placement year. WORST NIGHTMARE. Believe it or not, we’re not all born with the gift of public speaking. Uncomfortable situations such as presenting, starting a new job, or even interviewing for a placement can be tricky.

I’m Grace, a marketing placement student at RateMyPlacement, and I’m here to tell you it’s okay! While it’s daunting at first, stepping outside your comfort zone is probably one of the most important skills you’ll use in your career.

Take me for example. My goal is to say YES to as many opportunities as possible, and with three presentations down, I’m quickly becoming an expert… who even am I?! 

Here are three tips to consider, during your placement or wherever you are in life so that you can thrive outside your comfort zone.

Embrace The Discomfort

If you’re on the search for your placement year, this is good news. Why? This is probably the first time you’ve looked for a full-time job. So you’ve already taken a huge step.

What situations do you think you’ll find uncomfortable?

  • Presentations
  • Interviews 
  • Meeting new colleagues
  • Going to career/jobs fairs
  • Or simply, having to say ‘hi’ in a company-wide meeting.

Realistically, no one is going to expect you to be amazing at interviews or presenting for example, especially if it’s the first time you’ve ever had to do them. It’s easy to look at a job rejection as a knockback, try to embrace these moments as opportunities for growth. In fact, employers WANT you to grow.

For my first ever formal interview, when I began my placement journey, I was super nervous and didn’t get the job. But I was lucky to get feedback from the employer. They were BLOWN away at my confidence even after admitting how nervous I was and that it was my first interview.

So fake the confidence, but also remember to BE YOURSELF.

Another important point to remember is that preparation is everything. Here are some ways to prepare for an assessment centre:

  • Memorising a script to present
  • Getting your housemate to run through the most common interview questions
  • Researching the company 
  • Looking up your interviewers on LinkedIn 
  • Make sure you know how to get to their offices… on time.

Looking for more ways to prepare for an interview, we’ve got you. Click below.

Acknowledging Your Fears & Setting Clear Goals

This is probably one of the most important tips. Why are you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, what will you get out of it? Well other than the cocktail waiting for you on the other side… 

During any type of work experience, like a placement, internship or insight scheme, you need to set clear goals to achieve by the end of the experience.

Asking yourself these questions to help you set your goals:

  • Are you looking to develop and pick up new skills?
  • How am I going to measure progress?
  • What are my values and passions?
  • What potential obstacles or challenges might I encounter?
  • Are my goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART)? 

Whatever your goals are, write them down and look to achieve them. This will ultimately provide direction, motivation and a framework for your professional development.

If your job offers one-to-ones with your manager, discuss these goals with them. They’d love to see you take initiative and will admire your drive.

I’ve found it really helpful having a mentor, especially as mine was a placement student within the company 8 years ago! My Mentor can suggest new ways of making the most of my year, while also giving personalised advice based on his own experiences.

Before even starting university I set myself the goal that I wanted to complete a placement year to set myself apart from other students, boost my employability and create experiences to add to my CV and LinkedIn.

Here are some other things you can do NOW to make sure you are always at the top of any employer’s candidate lists.

Reward Yourself

Whether it be a friends night in, watching Gossip Girl, a cheeky 2-4-1 cocktail along with a spoons cocktail pitcher, or buying the shoes you’ve been eyeing up for a while now (what’s the student loan actually for if you can’t spend it)… We must take time to reflect and reward ourselves after doing something out of our comfort zone.

Acknowledging a victory and allowing ourselves to feel proud of our achievements make it all worthwhile.

Do this and I swear, you’ll become a lot more confident, employable and less of a mess when it comes to stepping out of your comfort zone. It might be overwhelming at first but once you’ve done it a few times, it’ll get easier and easier.

Your placement year is the perfect opportunity to say YES. No one expects Oscar-winning performances, just be and become the best, most confident you.  

So what are you waiting for?