IT Career Guide

Unmasking Impostor Syndrome: Navigating the Tech Industry’s Identity Crisis

Do you doubt your skills? Do you feel like a fraud?

You’re probably experiencing impostor syndrome or Impostor syndrome: the feeling that no matter your achievements, you are a fraud, doubting your abilities. 

It’s a vicious mindset that even successful people like Lady Gaga, Serena Williams, and Sheryl Sandberg experience. Even Yellow Tail Tech’s very own Paloma Vilceus experienced it, especially when she was new to tech and hadn’t yet found fellow women. 

Impostor syndrome knows no age, race, or gender and is pronounced in the tech industry, says LinkedIn. 

Since April is Impostor Syndrome Awareness Month, it is the best time to dive deep into this issue that could hinder your success in transitioning to IT. 

What is Impostor Syndrome?

According to Harvard Business Review, impostor syndrome (also Imposter syndrome, impostor phenomenon, or impostorism) is the feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt that can affect anyone, regardless of their level of success or skill. It can lead to a fear of being exposed as a fraud, a belief that success is due to luck, or a sense of not belonging in a particular field. 

People with Impostor syndrome tend to undervalue their abilities, minimize their accomplishments, and magnify their mistakes. The symptoms can vary from person to person and may include

  • feeling like a fraud
  • worrying too much about failing
  • having low self-esteem
  • constantly being hard on oneself

Thoughts like these can be especially harmful when transitioning to a career in tech, where Impostor syndrome can keep people from trying new things and going after their dreams.

Impostor syndrome doesn’t favor gender or age; even high school students experience it.  According to a 2020 review, 9%–82% of people experience impostor syndrome at varying levels. 

Even among successful people, finding someone who doubts themselves is not hard. The COO of Meta Platforms, Sheryl Sandberg, has said before that she still sometimes wakes up feeling like a fraud. Maya Angelou deals with feelings of insecurity every time she writes a book.

Impostor Syndrome and Career Change into Tech

Because of the rapid speed of innovation and the ongoing need for new abilities, the tech sector is one where impostor syndrome is prevalent and can cause people to feel like they are constantly falling behind. The widespread belief that men predominate in the IT industry may contribute to this sense of isolation.

Impostor syndrome can affect anyone. Some people experience it when they are students, like Natalie Portman did when she was a freshman. She worried that she was in the wrong place and that she wasn’t smart enough. And like the examples above, some experience it at work, whether new or working for years. 

According to several studies, most people working in tech (58%) and computer science students (57%) suffer from impostor syndrome. 

If you’re a newcomer to the tech business and are struggling with feelings of inadequacy, networking with others who have been where you are now can help. Seeking guidance from an experienced person who has been where you want to go can do wonders for your self-esteem. Small projects and coding clubs are great ways to gain experience and confidence.

How to Deal with Impostor Syndrome

Tech professionals face constant pressure to perform, which makes impostor syndrome even more challenging to address. It’s important to realize that many industry professionals have had similar situations and that there are strategies to deal with them. Five Impostor syndrome strategies from LinkedIn’s own advise:

  1. Recognize your accomplishments: It’s easy to lose sight of all the hard work and success that got you here, so take time to appreciate your achievements. Write down all you’ve accomplished and read it if you feel down. Seeing your accomplishments written down can be a powerful reminder of how valuable your skills are.
  1. Shift your perspective: Feelings of worthlessness can be strengthened by repeating destructive negative self-talk. When you become aware of a negative thought, replace it with a positive affirmation. Instead of saying, “I’m not good enough,” try saying, “I’m still learning, but I’m making progress.”
  1. Practice self-compassion: Self-criticism is natural when you question your own talents, so it’s essential to train yourself to be kind to yourself. However, you may discover that your anxiety and stress levels decrease if you treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion that you would a friend. Remember that it is acceptable to be friendly to yourself and that you deserve happiness and success.
  1. Seek support: One effective method for dealing with Impostor Syndrome is opening out to a trusted friend or loved one about how you feel. If you need guidance or an objective viewpoint, talk to someone. Sharing one’s story with another person can reduce anxiety and stress.
  1. Take action: If you constantly doubt your abilities and feel like a fake, you won’t take risks and won’t grow as much as you could. Nevertheless, expanding one’s sphere of competence by taking on challenging new projects can be rewarding. Remember that stretching yourself and taking risks is the only way to grow. 

You can conquer impostor syndrome and regain confidence by adopting these practices. Remember that you are not alone and may acquire the assurance and self-belief necessary to succeed in the tech business with time and experience.

Winning Against Impostor Syndrome

Everyone doubts themselves and feels like an impostor at some point in their careers. Acknowledging and overcoming impostor syndrome is key to winning. You can acquire confidence and attain your goals by rethinking and facing your concerns. Impostor syndrome can be overcome with persistence and self-compassion.

It’s crucial to remember that impostor syndrome is just a feeling, not a fact of life, because otherwise, the experience can be debilitating. Defeating impostor syndrome requires a mental shift and the bravery to resist negative self-talk. Self-recognition, self-compassion, and community support can resolve feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.

Remember, you belong in tech, and your unique perspective and skills are valuable to the industry. So, book a 10-minute intro call with our Enrollment Advisor to start your own journey into tech!

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Silvana Zapanta

Sil brings a wealth of experience to her writing and editing projects. After nearly a decade guiding college students in research and communication, she shifted her focus to freelance writing and editing. Her passion for education continues through volunteer work, where she empowers others by teaching research and writing skills.

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