The feeling that you don’t belong. The fear that you’ll be exposed as a fraud. The creeping sense of doubt that you can’t do it.
Impostor Syndrome is one of the challenges we hear about most often from our students. They’re committed to changing their careers and their lives, but will other developers accept them into the community?
It’s one of the most common fears students — or anyone — feels when they try something new. But should you feel that way? Unequivocally, no.
We want to help anyone experiencing Impostor Syndrome with advice from Vicki A., our Senior Career Coach. She, along with the Career Services team, has helped many students overcome their doubts and begin successful careers as software engineers, data scientists, and UX/UI designers. Our coaches even wrote a book on how to be a no-brainer tech hire.
Vicki’s main piece of advice? Doubt is normal, but you will get over it if you stick to your guns.
Everybody’s an impostor
If you feel like an impostor, welcome to the club. Practically everyone has had that feeling that they don’t belong. “Impostor Syndrome is very normal. It’s not something just Flatiron School students get,” Vicki says. “People from all walks of life, across all industries, experience Impostor Syndrome.”
For example, Maya Angelou, experienced Impostor Syndrome. “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” Angelou said in an interview with The New York Times.
Doubt is very natural, especially when something is new to you. That’s doubly true for career transitioners and anyone who wasn’t worked in tech before. You’re making the leap to a new career and a new industry. That’s a lot of pressure. But it’s something everyone experiences and there are ways to help you feel like you belong in the tech community.
Now that we know everybody can experience Impostor Syndrome, let’s look at the ways it can manifest and how to tackle those doubts.
Getting to the root of impostor syndrome
Impostor syndrome comes in all shapes and sizes. “It’s different for each person based on their own experiences, an assumption they’re making, or a difficult moment from their past,” Vicki says.
You might be afraid of people laughing at you or you’re afraid you’ll look fake. It’s important to understand the root of Impostor Syndrome, where it’s coming from, and what are you afraid of.
At Flatiron School, our coaches work with students to help them realize that they belong as software engineers, data scientists, and UX/UI designers. If you don’t feel like a developer, for example, one of the best things you could do is code all the time. You’re putting in the time and that will be recognized by others.
Put yourself in situations where you have to introduce yourself as a developer. You’re building that muscle and the more you do it, the more it becomes natural. At some point, it’s not going to feel weird anymore because you’ve said it a hundred times.
Another way we help our students is by acknowledging how far they’ve come. It’s easy to forget to celebrate the successes. That’s why we recommend taking the time to reflect on where they started and how much they know now.
Vicki also notes that our graduates have had to complete projects and assignments that show they belong. Our coaches also help students find actionable ways to manage their feelings.
Nobody ever feels truly ready. That’s true if you’re attending Flatiron School to become a software engineer, data scientist, or UX/UI designer and in life. Sometimes it’s about taking that leap of faith. At Flatiron School, you’re never alone. You have your coach there for you and the support of the whole community.
Charles Poladian is a copywriter for Flatiron School. He previously worked as a journalist and his work has appeared in the International Business Times and Mashable. Charles currently lives in Brooklyn.