By Jamie Role, Director of Applications
When I graduated from college and got my first job as a programmer, I felt like I could do anything. The first few years in the working world I felt eager and confident, but then the doubt started creeping in. I saw all these developers that knew so much more than me. No matter the number of hours I spent working, I always felt like I was behind. Then I started going to conferences and engaging on social media with others in technology; and although I felt challenged and inspired, those positives were overshadowed by my fears of not measuring up. I felt like my best wasn’t good enough and eventually those feelings started impacting my work. I didn’t understand how common my experience was until years later when I came across the term “imposter syndrome” and recalled that feeling that at any moment someone was going to expose me as an imposter, a fraud, not a “real” developer.
While imposter syndrome still rears its ugly head, that fear of being “found out” has moved to the background of my self-image. I’ve had wonderful supportive people in both my personal and professional life. In one of my lower periods, I helped a former co-worker with a project. One night as we were coding, he mentioned to me that he could tell my skills had really improved since the last time we worked together. This was a person I had admired as a mentor telling me I was doing well. That one simple comment stuck with me. When imposter syndrome knocks on the door, I look back on moments like this and remember that I do know what I’m doing and that others have faith in my abilities.
Dealing with imposter syndrome is an ongoing process. It’s important to remember your achievements. If you need to, make a list of them to remind yourself that you’re pretty awesome! Your experiences and what got you to where you are uniquely yours and you have something important to offer. Don’t sell yourself short and forget the value of your skills and experience. Make sure to have people in your life that are there to uplift and support you. They should be people you trust to be completely honest with you. People that will tell you when you make a mistake, but will also help point out the good that you missed while you were wallowing in self-doubt. I still have moments where I suffer from imposter syndrome, but I can now step back and use these techniques. They help me realize that where I am now is because of my hard work and not just dumb luck.