Impostor syndrome (IS) refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be, generally related to intelligence and achievement. In other words, imposter syndrome in tech or any other industry can make you feel like you are a phony or fraud, when others perceive you as successful and bright.
It is estimated that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of imposter syndrome in their lives. IS can create conflict in one’s thoughts, decrease confidence, and minimize performance if the mentality becomes ingrained in one's head. New opportunities, such as starting a new job or beginning college, can make you feel like you don’t belong and is one of many potential causes of IS. Personality disorders, such as low self-esteem, perfectionism, and neuroticism (high guilt and anxiety) can also lead one to be more susceptible to IS.
Imposter Syndrome in Tech
Imposter syndrome is prevalent within the tech industry, with about 58% of tech employees stating that they currently experience some form of the condition within their careers. The research included employees from some of the world's tech giants — including Apple, Facebook, and Uber — highlighting just how far the rabbit hole of imposter syndrome goes. The tech industry is fast-paced and can be demanding, leaving many employees feeling some sort of IS when the going gets tough.
Imposter syndrome in tech can affect employees in many ways. Some of the most common examples include superheroism, perfectionism, or a “disappointed genius.” Superheroism is manifested in overworking, or employees placing too much emphasis on competition in the tech industry, which causes them to take little breaks. Perfectionism also commonly affects people in tech. For example, a programmer may fixate on the errors and shortcomings in their code and waste time on something that’s already finished. Tech workers are bright people and will often experience a phenomenon called the “disappointed genius” because they tend to set extremely high goals for themselves.
Here at Momentum, we invite industry experts to join our students during their time in our program to talk about important topics like IS. Senior software engineer, Jason Draper, recently spoke to our students about how to confront imposter syndrome in tech. Jason currently works for ezCater and has worked for companies like thoughtbot, inc. and Heroku in the past. During his talk with our students, Jason shared his own experience with IS and how he was able to overcome this feeling. He explained that for three to four years, he constantly felt that what he did was wrong or that he was on the verge of getting fired. Eventually, Jason was able to overcome his IS, but those few years of fighting IS were not easy.
“For somebody who barely had a clue what was going on, the requirement of Cool, I’m going to lie to every client and then just figure it out as I go kind of led to a problem.” -Jason Draper
Solutions to Imposter Syndrome
To completely get past imposter syndrome, it is important to ask yourself tough questions that get to the root of the emotional problem. Some of these include: Must I be perfect for others to approve of me? What is my personal value? Why do I feel this way about myself? These questions can help you identify any emotions associated with IS.
Common techniques to help reduce the feeling of imposter syndrome includes talking to a close friend, assessing your abilities and past achievements, and taking work one day at a time. It is also essential to stop comparing yourself to others and to find a mentor or colleague that you can relate to. Most importantly, refuse to let IS hold you back. No matter how much you feel out of place, always pursue your dreams, and don’t let IS get in the way of any long-term goals.
Implementing these tips can help you effectively manage your imposter syndrome and improve your day-to-day mentality, eventually leading to higher overall happiness and career success.
Moving Forward with Momentum
A coding bootcamp like Momentum can help you get over imposter syndrome. At Momentum, we can help you be the best version of yourself and teach you a curriculum that will eradicate any possible IS you may have. As part of our curriculum, you can upskill or reskill your abilities, whichever is preferred by you. Dealing with imposter syndrome by learning a new tech skill might be just what you need to start a new chapter in your tech career.
To learn more about how Momentum can help you expand and upskill your tech talent, contact us today.