How to bridge the confidence gap for students

Jun 6, 2023 | Home Featured, How-to, Work experience/internships

Experience of the workplace is a useful way to help bridge the confidence gap among students, explains Forage.

In the world of early career talent, there is often a noticeable discrepancy between skill and self-assurance. Known as the ‘confidence gap’, this phenomenon can hinder young professionals from fully realising their potential.

For many students, the transition from academia to the workforce can be daunting. Even those who have excelled academically can experience a confidence gap when starting their careers.


The confidence gap

The confidence gap can manifest itself in a number of ways, from feeling like an imposter and self-selecting out of a career to being hesitant to speak up in meetings.

Students from diverse backgrounds and women report the greatest disconnect between their capabilities and what matters to a potential employer. Understanding and addressing this gap is essential for students from all backgrounds to succeed and thrive in their new roles.

At Forage, we know that a major factor contributing to the confidence gap is the lack of experience in the workplace.

Students and recent graduates may have excelled in their academic pursuits, but the dynamics of a professional environment can be very different. This can lead to feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt.

Additionally, the pressure to perform well in a new job can be overwhelming, especially if it is in a competitive field or industry.


Build a bridge

Building a supportive network is key to building confidence. Mentors, peers, and role models who can offer guidance, insight into the world of work, and encouragement will help overcome gaps in confidence.

Students need ample and safe opportunities to network and seek feedback to gain perspective on their strengths and areas for growth.

Cultivating a growth mindset will also help bridge the confidence gap. Opportunities to learn and try new skills in psychologically safe environments will encourage a growth mindset that embraces challenges and help students believe in their ability to develop skills over time. Expertise is not fixed but can be honed through effort, perseverance, and continuous learning.

Building a portfolio of achievements is a great tactic to showcase skills. Documenting and showcasing accomplishments, whether through a portfolio, resume, or online platforms can help students feel more confident.

Regularly engaging in learning opportunities and job simulations to add to a professional profile will reflect growth, skills, and experiences. Seeing progress in a tangible form can bolster confidence and provide a reminder of capabilities.


Success is within reach

The confidence gap can be a formidable obstacle for students, but it is not insurmountable. By understanding its causes and implementing strategies to bridge the gap, aspiring professionals can cultivate the confidence needed to excel in their chosen fields.

The skills that students bring to the workforce are valuable, and their voices deserve to be heard. Adopting a truly inclusive approach to confidence and skills building is just one of the ways that employers can help students realise their full potential.

The gap between the world of learning and full-time employment can be bridged through job simulations. Forage along with Clifford Chance and University of Greenwich explain how at ISE’s Student Recruitment Conference 2023.


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