Managing Imposter Syndrome

This is a (ongoing) story of how I transitioned from 5+ years in healthcare into a brand new world of tech. In this blog, I’ll give you the lowdown of what imposter syndrome is, why its so prevalent in tech, and tips on how I personally deal with it!

What is imposter syndrome?

Have you felt like you got to where you are because of sheer luck? Maybe you feel like a fraud, and you think it’s because you tricked people into thinking you actually know what you’re doing. Do you constantly downplay your achievements and accomplishments and have thoughts of self-doubt? If you’ve answered yes to any of these, there’s a chance that you are experiencing something called imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is often brought on by new milestones, such as a new job, a degree, or other accomplishment. While it is more common for newbies to experience imposter syndrome, having experience in the field doesn’t give you immunity. Events such as a promotion or new work assignment can trigger imposter syndrome. Many times, pressures and expectations that we put on ourselves can lead to feelings of imposter syndrome. I think imposter syndrome is so prevalent in tech because it is a fast moving field and a big one at that. Tech is definitely a field where the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

My experience

After over five years of working in healthcare, I decided to make the career switch into software engineering. For me, I think the hardest part of the transition was just being a beginner again. I had left a pretty fulfilling career that I had a lot of experience with to pursue this brand new field. I felt like I was completely starting over, which I eventually found was not true at all (you can read more about that and why I left healthcare here). I graduated from Flatiron School’s immersive full stack software engineering program in January and I am currently job hunting. I first experienced imposter syndrome pretty early on during the bootcamp and found myself constantly comparing my progress to my cohort mates. When talking about my accomplishments to friends and family, I noticed that I would downplay each achievement with “I guess I got really lucky” or “No idea how that happened.” After talking to one of the amazing staff members at my campus, I learned that what I was experiencing actually had a name, and you guessed it, it was imposter syndrome. He left me with a quote that I still have written on a sticky note stuck to my monitor, “Comparison is the theft of joy.”

How I deal with imposter syndrome

Turns out, a lot of my cohort mates were feeling the same way. It was really nice to break out of that feeling of isolation and hear their similar experiences. During the program, I’ve also picked up meditation before I start my day. These short 10 -15 minute practices have really helped me set a calm, positive tone for the rest of the day (I use either Calm or Headspace).

I know its really challenging to do this next one, but don’t obsess about comparing yourself to others (there is a reason why that sticky note is still on my monitor!). When I see my thoughts turn into comparisons, I instead focus on my own progress that I’ve made on that particular thing and use that as my comparison.

My hope is that by writing this article, I’ve shown that imposter syndrome is common, especially in tech. You are certainly not alone, you earned the right to be where you are, but most importantly, YOU GOT THIS!