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Self Advocacy: Championing yourself for today and tomorrow

One of the most vital skills you can learn to achieve success as a student, a job applicant, an employee, and as a person is how to self-advocate.

What is self-advocacy?
 To self-advocate is to champion yourself by:

-Speaking up about problems you are having
-Garnering the recognition you deserve
-Voicing your concerns
-Openly addressing inequalities you are experiencing

When do you self-advocate?

  • Academically:
    If you worked hard on a paper, but still received a low grade, you should make an appointment with your professor. Bring drafts, come prepared with questions, and respectfully ask the professor to reevaluate.
    If you are having trouble following your teacher in class, raise your hand and ask a question!
    Or if you have a learning disability that is prohibiting you from completing your tests in the allotted time, make an appointment with the disability office to arrange appropriate accommodations.
  • In The Job market:
    A job interview is the optimum opportunity to self-advocate! It is your job to articulate your strengths, and let your interviewer know you are the right choice for the job. Additionally, when you are given a job offer, it is important that you are prepared to negotiate for your salary, benefits, or any vacation days you might need to take early in your time on the job.  You will need to be aware of the average pay for your position and experience level, and be prepared to ask/negotiate for more money if you are being offered less than you are comfortable accepting.
  • In the work place:
    Employees often need to advocate for themselves to be considered for a promotion. Don’t get passed over by keeping quiet; this is not a time for modesty. Let your boss know you would like to be considered for the position, and be prepared to explain the value you could bring to the position.
  • Socially:
    Are your friends always expecting you to drive, and draining your gas tank? Ask them to contribute next time you pull over to the pump, or let them know you need to take turns driving.
  • Anytime!
    As long as you are respectful, it is always okay to advocate for your needs! Is there a weird charge on your credit card? Call the bank! Did your server accidentally charge you twice for your soda? Speak up! Wherever you go, you have to be prepared to make your needs known.

How do I self-advocate?

There are three main components to self-advocacy: know yourself, know your needs, and know how to get what you need.

  1. Know yourself
    To be a good self-advocate, you have to know your great worth! You deserve to succeed!
    Take responsibility for your actions, strengths and weaknesses. How can you argue you are ready for a promotion at work if you are not prepared to showcase your good qualities?

  2. Know your needs
    At its heart, self-advocacy is the process of articulating your needs, your desires, or your concerns. Only you have your unique set of experiences and observations. In order to allow others to give you the help you need, they need to first understand what you are experiencing. Be prepared to state your problem, clearly and calmly. You will get more help if you can keep your cool, and explain clearly. If your friends are mooching your gas, don’t just get angry with them. Instead, explain the problem and suggest a solution.

  3. Know how to get what you needKnowing what you need won’t solve anything unless you have the motivation to go out there and get it. You have to have determination! If you reach out for help via email, and you don’t hear back—call! It is important to be prepared.  Research the problem, make a list of people you can reach out to, send emails, make phone calls, consult experts. Do you need documentation to help you make your case?

Who should self-advocate?

You should! Wherever you go, it is important you are always your own biggest cheerleader, your biggest defender, and your biggest believer. You can do this! But if you ever need some help figuring out how best to advocate for yourself, your friends at Take Stock in College have your back!

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