Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Business students briefed on boosting their swagger, ‘humble confidence’


Whether you call it swagger, or confidence, effectively relaying that persona in a job interview can make, or break, a graduate’s first step into a career opportunity.

Students in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business recently got a taste of how to effectively communicate their brands in a job interview or other professional setting by a panel of recent graduates. Led by Kevin Long, ‘90, senior director of IT Transformation and Global Sales at Cisco, students received tips on how to “Build Your Clemson Swagger” during a virtual presentation by the four business alums.

“When you lack experience, you need to show a confidence that people will gravitate to. It’s about telling a convincing story about what you learned and how it will apply to the next step in your life,” said Long, a financial management major while at Clemson, and member of the college’s Advocacy and Engagement Board. “If you exude self-confidence, or swagger, about yourself to the hiring manager on the other side of the table, it will go along way in convincing them you’re the right fit for their job opening.”

Long was the brainchild of the “Build Your Clemson Swagger” event, according Leah Hughes, the college’s assistant director of Career & Professional Development.

Rebecca Henderson mugshot
Rebecca Henderson

“The event was meant to give students insights into how to develop their personal and professional brands. Knowing who you are and presenting yourself in a professional and polished manner in an interview or networking event can lead to a career opportunity,” Hughes said.

UPIC intern and panel discussion moderator Rebecca Henderson said hearing insights from young professionals who were in her position not long ago, was especially helpful as she ponders career opportunities.

“In talking about developing our personal brands, the panelists discussed how Clemson students have this ‘humble confidence’ that differentiates us from other university students,” the junior marketing major said. “In order to best maximize that humble confidence, we must first develop and effectively communicate a story about ourselves so an employer, and others can understand our passions and the ‘whys’ about us.”

Long said that humble confidence is something he admires in Clemson students, but oftentimes the volume needs to be turned up, so their ‘swagger’ becomes a differentiator for the interviewee.

“An interviewer isn’t going to pull the confidence out of a candidate, they have to develop and display it,” Long said. “It’s easily learned if you practice, and that can be done by anticipating questions that will be asked. In building their stories students need to create a narrative architecture about the story they want to deliver, then customize it so that it fits into any conversation, regardless of the career scenario.”

Understanding it takes homework to nail down that story is the first step toward putting together a convincing narrative, according to Long.

“Most students have been successful in their academic lives up to this point but supplementing that academic success with a convincing story presentation takes practice,” Long added. “The more practice in developing their stories, the less nervous they’ll be in an interview and the more their story will be remembered. If you have swagger, your message will come across as authentic and not forced.”

Alumni panelists included:

-Brian Peterson, Goldman Sachs, investment management;

-Ebony Aiken, Novolex, treasury analyst;

-Becky Williams, Cisco, service sales specialist;

-Sarah Barsaleau, Peter Millar, special markets coordinator;

# # #

Want to Discuss?

Get in touch and we will connect you with the author or another expert.

Or email us at news@clemson.edu

    This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.