When I graduated from college I could not make it through a job interview without being so visibly nervous that I destroyed my chances of getting employment.
I had part time jobs in the past: fast food, paint store clerk, and janitor at a hospital. No interviews were necessary to get these jobs as friends recommended me and I was hired after filling out a simple application.
But things seemed so different after graduation. I went to many job interviews related to my degree in Accounting and was turned down. I dressed properly, practiced interviewing skills, knew what I would say, knew what I wanted, but when the real interview came, my body shook, my mouth quivered, and my thoughts and expression became incomprehensible. I received no job offers.
It was so bad that I gave up. It was better to sit in my room and feel sorry for myself than to face another job interview.
My best friend Ted asked me: “What was it about accounting that I liked?” I could not answer the question because there was nothing about accounting that I liked, I chose this degree because my dad said I could always get a job. I made it through all the studying and tests on fear – fear of failing.
“What courses did you like?” asked Ted. I could not answer this question either because I never thought this way . . . “I just took the courses necessary to get my degree.” I said.
“That’s not true!” Ted said, we all had to choose electives. “What about all those computer programming classes you took?” “You were pretty good at that class we took together.”
“He is right” I thought to myself and that is why I took many more computer science classes than I needed to graduate and always took interests in the assignments and even got excellent grades.
“Why don’t you try the computer field?” Ted said. “What have you got to lose?”
My first interview was for a large software consulting company. I was given an aptitude test and a programming test. I scored well but was nervous during the interview. The interviewer said they needed people who were comfortable meeting clients so I was not offered the job.
My second interview was for an entry level programming job in the medical field. I was nervous, my mouth quivered for a moment but overall I felt OK. At one point, the interviewer and I were talking about radio controlled airplanes . . . imagine . . . even small talk. Then the interviewer asked: “Kevin, you have been out of college for over six months, why have you not been working?”
I swallowed hard and spoke the truth. “I get very nervous at job interviews. . .”
“You’re doing fine” he said and the interview was over. The interviewer called me personally the next day to say that I made the top three list but that I did not get the job because they felt someone else was a better match. He wished me the best and told me not to worry because I would do well.
My third interview was for a entry level programming position for a small software company specializing in accounting software in the education field. I was very comfortable and got the job with almost no effort.
Since then, the computer field has been very good to me and has allowed me to use my natural gifts, talents, creativity, and interests. The computer field also greatly challenged me as being successful meant greater responsibility . . . training users, writing papers, traveling internationally, making big decisions, giving presentations, and defending principles.
Looking back, it is clear what was going on. Part of me simply would not allow me to take a job in the accounting field because I had no interest, talent, or future in that field. Had I been Mister Smooth, Mister Outgoing I would have gotten an accounting job and been miserable . . . perhaps my whole life.
Instead, a very wise part of me made it impossible to get an accounting job and directed me towards something I loved.
I am grateful for the guidance of my shyness.
This true story demonstrates the principle that shyness is an inner guide.