PROGRESS Workshop- Introspective

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Welcome to part two of my PROGRESS workshop experience knowledge recap! I’m still not sure how to truly describe it, so you’ll have to accept that nice collection of words. Part two is all about introspection and focusing on how personal understanding benefits professional development. For more extrospective development, click here to read part one! If you have no idea what the PROGRESS workshop I’m talking about is, go ahead and click here to go to part one for some context!


Foggy start to day 2!


Once again, I was trying to pay attention to what was being presented, engage with the material, and take detailed notes for you all at the same time, so I’m lumping all of my credit-due-to’s at the end of this post.


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1. Be gritty.

We opened up our talk on grit at the workshop with this Ted Talk, so that’s what I’m going to do here!

As Angela Lee Duckworth says in her talk, long term goals require grit. They require passion and perseverance. You have to have stamina and live your life like it’s a marathon. After all, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, as the saying goes. If you stick with something and really work at it- if you have grit- you will succeed.

This is different from resilience. Resilience is a short-term ability to bounce back when you encounter something tough. Grit is a long-term ability to continue to push through any setbacks and maintain a sense of personal strength.

What really helps with this?

Avoid the me-always-everything. This is

“It only happens to me.”

“It always happens to me.”

“It happens in everything I do.”

Adjust your mentality and…

2. Adopt the growth mindset.

Your ability to learn isn’t fixed.

Let me repeat- your ability to learn isn’t fixed. Don’t ever think you’re “too stupid” to learn something. I’m a believer that you can do whatever you put your mind to- your ability is proportional to your effort. Believe you can get better at something, work at it, and you will! Failure isn’t a permanent state of being nor is it a permanent mindset. There are actually two types of mindsets related to learning and achieving which I’ve outlined in a nice little chart below:


When you constantly think “I can’t,” you’re in a fixed mindset. It’s all about self-awareness; recognize your attitude and current mindset and adjust accordingly. It’s how long you stay in a fixed mindset that matters! If you find yourself thinking “I can’t,” add a “yet” onto it- “I can’t do that yet.” That key word is a key difference and it helps you get into the mindset that you will be able to do it if you put in the effort. Mistakes and failures are how we learn, so take those mistakes and failures as your period of “yet.”

To exemplify this at the workshop, we all had to get up and copy a simple pattern using our arms-

Left arm position 1- straight up, position 2- straight down

Right arm position 1- straight up, position 2- straight out, position 3- straight down

The trick was we had to go through each of those for six cycles but at the same time. It’s a lot harder than it sounds!

Go ahead. Try it. I’ll wait.

When we first saw what we had to do, we all groaned and sighed and said “omg that’s impossible!” –> fixed mindset

After we gave it a few attempts, we were asked

“Could you learn to do that?”

and we all said we could. –> growth mindset

See the difference? That activity really opened my eyes to seeing how we immediately jump into a fixed mindset. It’s actually really harmful to our education and personal development overall! So fight the fixed mindset and make it a point to call yourself out when you find yourself slipping into that world of “I can’t.” My dad used to correct (sometimes forcefully 😉 ) my brother and I whenever we said “I can’t,” and honestly, looking back, I think that’s a great thing to teach our kids- start getting them to recognize these two mindsets early and it can only benefit them!

3. Fight auto-thinking, stereotype threat, and imposter syndrome.

The main takeaway from this is when you know more, you can do more.

Auto-thinking– unconscious application of stereotypes; early mind processing before controlled information processing takes place (via)

Most people quickly replace this automatic processing with controlled. You usually get over your initial physical takeaways from someone and replace it with either recognition that you shouldn’t assume that stereotype and/or later get to know them better to learn them on a more personal level.

What I found really interesting about auto-thinking was the implicit association test. You don’t realize how often this thinking comes into play in your daily life! It’s important to recognize and address it so it doesn’t come back to bite you later.

Stereotype Threat– self-confirming belief that one may be evaluated based on a negative stereotype (via)

The best way to demonstrate this is in an academic environment. If you are reminded of a negative stereotype right before taking a test, you get so anxious about proving that negative stereotype true that you actually perform worse on the test. It could come from something as simple as filling in those personal background questions on a formal exam or even taking a test in a mixed-gender environment.

How can you counteract stereotype threat?

You need to understand that intelligence isn’t fixed (see #2 above). Surround yourself with positivity and remind yourself that you have value.

Imposter Syndrome– the feeling that your achievements are not real or that you do not deserve praise or success (via)

Imposter syndrome is especially common for women in STEM, young adults from lower-income families, and among many students in prestigious universities.

When I first got to college, I had a rude awakening that maybe I wasn’t as smart as everyone had made me believe. I was suddenly surrounded by the best of the best. Seemingly everyone had been in the top ten of their class, had taken multiple AP exams and scored well on all of them, and came in with a GPA over a 4.0. It was so common that I felt I couldn’t compete, that I didn’t have what it takes to learn and collaborate with them. I had what it took to get in to State, but the question is still whether I have what it takes to stay and succeed here.

Know that imposter syndrome isn’t who you are. You do have what it takes or you wouldn’t be where you are now. It wasn’t luck or coincidence, it was you. I attribute a lot of this feeling to a lack of confidence- you will realize your abilities because you deserve everything you’ve achieved. You belong, I promise!

Don’t take all that I’ve said here as “the world is against you” because I strongly believe that isn’t true. You are a part of this world. Rise and overcome any obstacles and you will only be a better person because of it!


4. Know your strengths.

How do you define a strength?

It’s not just something you’re good at, though that’s part of it. A strength is something you’re both good at and you crave. It has three ingredients: talent, skill, and knowledge.

Don’t spend all of your time focusing on what you’re not so good at. Focus on building your strengths! If something isn’t your inherent gift, there is more or less a limit; there are exponential gains, however, with what you’re innately good at if you continue to develop it as such.

The three scenarios to keep in mind are as follows:

  1. You do well, but don’t crave it. This isn’t your passion. Don’t waste your time if you don’t enjoy it!
  2. You crave it, but aren’t necessarily good at it. These are called hobbies 😉 I’m not saying you should stop doing something you love to do just because you aren’t the best at it (because that’s no fun), just don’t quit your day job 😉
  3. You do well and you crave it. You found your strength, lucky you! Don’t forget that strengths require work (you can’t just rely on raw talent), but if you’re serious about it, you can take it far.


Before arriving at the workshop, we all took the Clifton Strengths Finder test-


StrengthsFinder 2.0

My top five Clifton strengths are:

  1. Futuristic
  2. Input
  3. Competition
  4. Harmony
  5. Positivity

We got a detailed description of each of our top five strengths and were told to highlight anything that reminded us of ourselves. What was really cool was I found myself wanting to highlight everything. This simple test gave me results that fit me perfectly. This Clifton StrengthsFinder is great because it not only describes your strengths, but gives you ideas for acting on and developing them in addition to tips for how to work with others who have that strength.

I highly recommend that you take the StrengthsFinder test if you haven’t already. It doesn’t cost very much and it really helps you understand yourself better! See this article and this one for more reasons why knowing your strengths will benefit you not only professionally, but in your everyday life as well.

5. Find the support you need.

You probably won’t be successful if you try to go through life on your own.

At the workshop, we were given blank maps outlining the various types of support and where we can find them:


After we filled them out, we discussed what areas of support we seemed to be lacking. Personally, I found that I was lacking in the sponsorship area, especially regarding letters of recommendation.

So how are we going to fill those emptier areas?


Proactively seek out what you need and be specific in doing so.

And how do you go about making those requests?


  • tell the person what you want and why
  • tell them what you already know about them (without sounding creepy 😉 )
  • be professional. Remember to include the appropriate titles.
  • acknowledge that they’re busy and say how much you appreciate their time.
  • appreciate and be open to any opportunities they share with you
  • ask/offer to set up an appointment, working around their schedule.


  • ask them what they do. I don’t understand how this even happens, but it does. #awkward
  • ask them to be a mentor right away. That’s completely overwhelming to them! Start by asking for their advice on something specific and go from there.
  • be too specific. Make sure you leave your request open and flexible enough that they can actually help you!
  • expect them to do all of the work for you. Try to find some information on your own and share what you find out with them.
  • think you can only meet with people in person. You can (and you should!) contact people hours away from you, maybe even across the country. Many people do meetings by phone or Skype and it’s just as effective!

Also remember that you can be your own mentor too. Hold yourself accountable and be reliable to you. Stay confident and don’t self-opt-out. In other words, don’t decide “no” for yourself. Even if you don’t think someone will reply to you or you’ll get the job offer or whatever doubts you have, give them the option of telling you no because that also means they have the option of telling you yes!


Click the link below to download a blank copy of the support map mentioned above!

Downloadable Support Map


6. Keep building your tool kit.
Reach out to people.

If you’re still a student, you have so many doors just waiting to open for you. Get to know faculty. Let me say it again- get to know faculty.

Make a habit of courage and never be ashamed to ask for help. Which leads in to…

Say it out loud.

Say your strengths and say your weaknesses. Get comfortable with stating what you do know and what you need help with. It makes other people feel better when they see they aren’t the only one struggling with something!

At the workshop, we had to complete the following statements and then run around and share them with as many other people as possible-

I am awesome at writing essays.”

Physics is hard.”

It was so great to see that I’m not the only one struggling with physics (aka the bane of my existence), but it was also interesting to see the people who were exact opposites of me. I met more than one girl who was great at physics, but not so great at essays. This just enforces the idea that science is so collaborative (see the extrospective post)

Set a goal.

Make goals for yourself and follow through! When you write a goal down, you have a 40% higher chance of actually following through. When you tell someone else that same goal, that percentage increases to 77%!

So go on. What is your goal for the week? Mine is to lock down a lease for housing for the coming school year. Yay adulting.



I’m definitely missing this place!

You can change the world because you’re you! Continue to learn and excel for a greater purpose. Do you want to live for your resume or your eulogy?


~What are your goals? What are your strengths? What are you missing in your support map?


Special thanks to Dr. Sandra Clinton, Dr. Elaine Godfrey, Dr. Emily Fischer, Christ, and the Camp Canaan staff for making this weekend so incredible! Also credit to Dr. Amanda Adams, Dr. Paola Lopez-Duarte, Danielle Merritt, Nitza Santiago, Karin Gleason, Brittany Hamilton, Carolyn Ryan, Dr. Valerie Reynolds, Alea Tuttle, Camaron George, Dr. Patricia Fall, and Dr Heather Simon for being so open, supportive, and encouraging!

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