Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

Confidence Counts

Last week, students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to hear General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt speak at Wake Forest University. As part of the Broyhill Executive Lecture Series, Jeff’s discussion on “Developing Global Leaders for a Global Economy” was a highly anticipated event on our campus. Over two hundred and fifty members of the Wake Forest community attended to hear Jeff speak on the state of the economy and his words of wisdom for future grads.

It was refreshing to hear Jeff’s positive advice to students regarding jobs and the economy in contrast to the doom and gloom most people are embracing. Rather than fixating on the perils of the current economy, Jeff spoke about GE’s commitment to hiring graduates, citing that Wake Forest students in particular “bring raw horsepower and a unique perspective to their work.”

As the Chairman of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Jeff believes that the first step is re-building confidence in the United States and the economy. As I skim the daily news, I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Immelt. It’s hard to look past all the articles that cite the 9.1% unemployment rate, the mounting debt, and the bi-partisan conflict that has stalled our ability to implement solutions that will create more jobs. So how do we begin to re-build confidence amidst all the bad news?

As parents, it’s our natural inclination to worry about our children, but we need to be thoughtful in how we communicate any negative feelings to them that we may have about the job economy. Many students I speak with today have already psychologically given up before they have even started the process. They have psyched themselves out by believing that the job market is so bad that they shouldn’t even try. In reality, there are hundreds of new jobs posted in our DeaconSource system each week in addition to many more that could be secured through networking. Last year, almost 90% of Wake Forest graduates were employed or in graduate school within six months after graduation – in a very difficult job market. Sure, the job search process will take time and won’t be easy – but who ever said that getting something worthwhile is easy?

According to Mr. Immelt, to be successful, our students must be confident in themselves. They must be comfortable with change and uncertainty. They must be competitors and have a huge desire to be winners. As Mr. Immelt said to our students, “Your mom and dad can afford to be afraid. You can’t.”

Talk to your student in a manner that builds their confidence. Tell them that you believe in them and that anything is possible with persistence and effort. The once piece of advice I’d like to offer is to make sure that they are asking for help and guidance from people who can really help them.

In order to succeed in this crazy 21st century job market, they’ll need you to be their biggest fan – motivating them even when things look bleak. The world isn’t going to make it easy for them. But they’ll have a better journey and more likelihood of success if they are bolstered by your confidence in them.

Category: Tips for Parents