From the Blog RSS

All It Takes Is a Little Encouragement

For all the talk of the millennial generation's "self-esteem on steroids," it's startling how often one finds the opposite. More like self-esteem on Chiclets. Most live somewhere in the middle—which of course is a good thing.

But even when self-confidence starts out small, it doesn't have to stay that way, as shown by the following story.

"We should probably stop calling them 'mock' interviews." — one of my former co-workers

As a university career counselor, I often met with students for practice interviews. One afternoon I was helping out a co-worker by meeting with his accounting students. All of them had real interviews the following week.

My first accounting student showed up early, looking sharp and confident as you might expect. We smiled and shook hands, making small talk on the way from the front desk to my office. I knew right away I liked him.

After he settled in and I explained the drill, our interview began. We even kicked it off with another handshake, just to make it feel official.

How not to answer the opening question...

"So. Ryan," I began. "Tell me about yourself."

"I'll just get right to it," he said. "I'm not the smartest student you're going to see today."

Ooh ooh no.

I didn't say that. But I did smile and give the time-out sign. I reminded him he would not have been called in for the upcoming interview if the firm didn't think he was qualified. We talked about it some more.

Then I did something I had done for countless students, something that had been done for me years earlier—and had made a world of difference. I suggested we switch roles.

"I'll be you, and you be the interviewer."

Even the most jaded students found this intriguing. It also caused them to sit up taller and smile, even when they didn't want to.

"Using your best interviewer voice..."

The student would begin—smiling and almost drunk with power. "So. Tell me about yourself."

By now we were both smiling and locking eyes, sharing a moment of unspoken amusement. I would answer as them, using the actual information on their resumes—and nothing more.

Sometimes by the time I finished telling them about themselves, the formerly shy student would gush, "You're hired!" Boom. Whole different interview. The student now felt free to be a much more confident version of himself.

And of course, confident people are more likely to get offers, discern wisely which offer to take, and succeed once they're hired.

You don't need a counseling degree (or any degree) to affirm and encourage a young person

Smile and give them the time of day. Listen to their stories—everybody's got one. Learn from them. Laugh with them. Hug them if that's appropriate.

Invest in young adults, even the ones you're not raising. Today's caddie or barista may become your next intern, employee, co-worker, or friend. Or friendly VA team.

And though I didn't start out to tell you this, I just realized my new CPA is a so-called millennial. He's married with two little kids, both of whom he would die for. How do you not respect that?

Show the younger generation respect—and watch how more often than not, you're respected in return.

You don't need a counseling degree (or any degree) to affirm and encourage a young person.

Gina DeLapa

Tweet This!

Photo of Gina DeLapa

Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at