It’s not easy to get noticed when you’re a natural-born introvert. Just ask Janelle Mitchell – a self-confessed shy-girl. Janelle told us that she used to find it hard to stand out in social and professional situations as she sometimes lacks confidence. But after employing a few handy tricks, Janelle is now a member of the Go Think Big team, radio presenter, and an up-and-coming DJ who’s already played to large audiences! So how has Janelle become more confident and landed all these amazing gigs? We pinned her down for a chat where she spilled her secrets…
Starting out: Boiler Room
After she graduated, Janelle came back from volunteering abroad and whilst she knew she wanted to pursue music, she wasn’t really sure how. Whilst on SoundCloud, an advert came up for Go Think Big’s opportunity with music industry experts from O2 and Boiler Room, which involved work shadowing and helping to stage a live music event. Though she’d never heard of Go Think Big before, she knew she had to apply, submitted her video application, and soon found out her application was successful. She told us that at the event she had to make sure she stood out, which wasn’t always easy. “I’m a blend of extroverted and introverted, leaning more towards the intro side” she explained. “I can be quite bubbly and confident but that has taken time to develop, and a lot of that is me pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Attending the Boiler Room opportunity by myself was daunting initially, but I’ve had to really work on my social anxiety at times in order to move forward. It’s the only way to build networks and meet incredible people.”
After attending the two days of workshops and shadowing with O2 and Boiler Room, she continued to network and build contacts of like-minded people. She carried on checking the Go Think Big site for opportunities and signed up for our newsletter, constantly looking at the website for ways to increase her expertise.
In July, she found herself looking for a job and noticed in one of the newsletters that Go Think Big was hiring. As she’d already been to a Go Think Big opportunity she thought it would be a great place to work. She got the job and started in August 2017!
Do the most
Janelle advises doing extra stuff outside your full-time job wherever possible to ensure you stay well-rounded. Even though she works 9-5pm, Janelle also uses her evenings and weekends to pursue other passions. In this day and age, having a job and a side-hustle or a passion outside of work is pretty common. And if you want to turn your additional job into your full-time role, Janelle is proof that making the most out of your spare time is the way to go. She said: “Since Feb 2017, I have been on a podcast with a friend. This mainly consisted of talking from my perspective as a black British Londoner and it led to me getting my own breakfast show on RadarRadio once a week. Since July this year, I’ve also been learning how to DJ and just had my first show!”
Getting out of your comfort zone
Janelle told us that she forced herself to network and meet like-minded people in her industry, which she found hard. She explained; “I think the main thing I’ve found beneficial is going to events by myself. A year ago, I never would have done that but volunteering abroad and my experience with O2 and Boiler Room really gave me the confidence to start pushing myself professionally and demonstrate my confidence. I’ve been to presenting workshops and DJ workshops to build my skills and now I’m DJing and presenting, These kind of events really do help you.” Of course everyone is different, and it’s important to know what aspects of your personality you need to develop and how you can do it without bursting into tears because you’ve put yourself under too much pressure. You wouldn’t jump into shark infested waters if you didn’t know how to swim, would you? So remember to take it one step at a time, take it slow and always remember that progress (no matter how small) is still a step in the right direction.
Give yourself time to get things sorted
Janelle remembers a time when she was upset due to her unemployment, but looking back she realises that there was no need to be hard on herself during this period. “My motto is ‘time is a healer’” she told us. “It’s a mantra that has gotten me through a lot! Being unemployed and having difficulties in university meant there were days when I was down, but I had faith in myself and I knew soon things would start happening for me. Time really does heal all, you will get through it and life goes on.”
Be interested in others
Ok, so you’ve decided to muster up the courage to go to that next event because Janelle’s inspired you. But are you going to be a wallflower and shrink into the background when you get there? Answer: Nuh-uh. As Janelle advises, you need to make an effort to be present at these events. “When I get to events I try to be myself and be as open as I can. Basically I just smile at everyone” she told us. “I try to start genuine conversations. It’s important to not let your awkwardness get the best of you, because everyone in the room feels that way. I’m still learning how to approach people but being really friendly and approachable during events has really helped.”
Janelle’s top tips for introverts
- Don’t compare yourself to people.
“In this day and age with social media, there can be all these things that may make us feel bad. We need more positive affirmation. Stay in your lane and focus. Oprah didn’t get her first show until she was 35!
- Come out of your comfort zone
“It’s so easy as an introvert to retreat into your shell. You’ll feel so much better for it! Start small – just by going to an event by yourself, you don’t want to look back and have regrets.
- Be open-minded to networking with all different types of people.
“Word of mouth is so powerful. Ask questions, ask them about their journey. You can learn from every single person on this planet. If people are willing to share their knowledge, take it and then use that to pursue whatever you want to do in life.”
Remember that you don’t need to have all the answers right now
It’s OK to try things out and find your feet before committing to a career – don’t rush to put a label on your future. Janelle currently works at Go Think Big as Programme Administrator and told us she enjoys trying out lots of new things in her role. “I’ve had the opportunity to speak and present at work which, again, is getting me out of my comfort zone. I’m trying to be open to all opportunities that come my way, try loads of different skills and see what sticks – especially for someone that doesn’t really know what they really want to do yet!” She continued; “I have my hands in quite a few pies and don’t really feel the need to limit myself yet – I also want to be successful within myself. The term success is so subjective, and it’s easy to compare yourself to other people, but we’re all on our own journey. Where that takes me – I have no clue yet – I’m still trying to figure it all out.” Janelle advises staying focused on your goals by thinking positively and keeping a note of progress. She said; “write down your goals for next year – put it up on your wall! Put pictures up with it, work towards to it. This is the perfect time to set yourself aims – you are in control of your own destiny after all…”
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