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February 23, 2016

The One Thing That Got Me My First Job

After quitting my disastrous first-first job, which I only stayed at for two terrible months, I applied for a leadership position at the Bellevue YMCA here in Nashville. The YMCA of Middle Tennessee Association, which is one of the largest...

The One Thing That Got Me My First Job

After quitting my disastrous first-first job, which I only stayed at for two terrible months, I applied for a leadership position at the Bellevue YMCA here in Nashville.

The YMCA of Middle Tennessee Association, which is one of the largest and most successful in the entire country and is comprised of over 30 centers, was opening a new location in the growing Bellevue community. They were hiring for all positions and I applied for the Aquatic Director position.

Here’s the reality of me as a candidate at that time.

I was twenty-two.

I was basically right out of college with little to no real-world work experience.

I had zero leadership or management experience of any kind and my degree was in advertising.

This position required someone to build an entire Aquatics department from the ground up. This included hiring and managing a staff of over 50 people as well as creating and managing all aquatic programming including swim lessons, swim team, and lifeguarding classes. It involved managing a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It required purchasing all materials for the pool area including all chemicals, lifeguard equipment, swim lesson and swim team equipment, staff uniforms, first aid supplies, and every other item that would be needed for the aquatic area. It involved setting prices and setting up the accounting and marketing for all aquatic programs. And on and on and on.

It was a huge feat for anyone, much less someone that still had dirt from the University of Tennessee on her shoes.

I interviewed for the job, and of course since I talk about it regularly on my blog, I’m sure you know I got it.

But what I’ve never shared is why I got it.

A few months after we had been open and become the fastest growing YMCA in the country at that time (and I was working 80–90 hours a week every single week), I think it hit me just how unqualified I really was for the job that I was in. All of the other directors of other departments, such as Wellness, Membership and Childcare, were older than me by at least twelve years. Why me? How did I get that job?

One day, I asked my boss and our Executive Director, Laurel. I said, “What made you choose me for this job?”

She laughed and said, “You know you interviewed against a woman that had 12 years of experience in Aquatic management, don’t you?”

No. No, I did not know that!

She continued, “It was easy—your confidence. In your interview, you were confident you could do the job, so you sold me. I became confident in you too.”

That one quality—confidence—allowed me to jump-start my career at a higher level than most people could dream of. I was given responsibilities I wasn’t ready for and opportunities I wasn’t worthy of. And everything I’ve been able to do in my career since has been possible because of that first job.

That’s how powerful confidence is. I don’t mean you need to have a blind, uninformed arrogance. That’s not the same thing. But if you can have a genuine confidence in what you’re working on or going for, you’re much more likely to get there.

If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either. But if you have confidence in yourself, you may just sell others enough to be confident in you too.

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  1. Bill says:

    When I encouraged my wife to join me in real estate I praised her for her confidence and enthusiasm. Our motto was and is: People will rise to your level of enthusiasm. Be enthusiastic about what you do for people and they will stick with you.