Sandra Day O’Connor and Self Confidence

Today is Monday, so this post is on self confidence.

Yesterday, I was thinking about what I was going to write about self confidence in today’s post.  I came across an article by Shelly Banjo in The Wall Street Journal Sunday in the Denver Post called Post-College Internships. 

In the article, Ms. Banjo pointed out, “Although internships are mostly known as a tool for people still in college, both internships and temporary jobs can be an efficient way for grads to test out a career.  They may also open the door to a better position than you’d get as an entry-level permanent hire.”

I think this is some good, common sense advice.  But to put it into play, you need to be self confident.  If you go the post-college internship route, people will openly question why you are an intern after you’re out of college.  It takes guts and self confidence to tell them that you think it is in your best long term career interests. 

But it can pay off in the end.  In the article, Ms. Banjo tells the story of Nikki Jackson who found a great job with Safeway as a pricing analyst after taking an internship there.  Ms. Jackson makes more money in her pricing analyst position than she would have in an entry level position with Safeway.

In another section of the Sunday Post, Diane Carmen’s column had an interesting anecdote about retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.  In 1952, Justice O’Connor graduated third in her class from the Stanford Law School.  And, because of the blatant sexism of the day, she couldn’t get a job.  She sent out lots of resumes and couldn’t even generate an interview.

One of her letters went to the San Mateo, California County Attorney.  He replied that he didn’t have the money or office space available to hire another attorney.  Justice O’Connor said, “I wrote a long letter telling him what I could do for him, and I said I was willing to work for a while for nothing.”  She also said that she would be willing to share office space with his secretary.  Remember now, this was a woman who finished third in her class at Stanford Law School.  The County Attorney, pretty much backed into a corner, agreed to take her on as an unpaid lawyer.  So, a future Supreme Court Justice’s first job was as a Deputy County Attorney with no office and no salary.

These two articles and stories illustrate some great common sense points on career and life success.  Believe in yourself.  Demonstrate this belief by being willing to take a job or a task that you think is below you.  Once you do, let your performance do the talking.  Self confidence, coupled with a dose of humility can take you a long way.  It got Sandra Day O’Connor all the way to the Supreme Court.  And, who knows, Ms. Jackson may someday be the CEO of Safeway.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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