Alumni Wisdom Series: Feeling Like a Fraud? Tips to Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

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It’s easy to feel intimidated, even when you’ve demonstrated success. A feeling of “I don’t belong” or “I’m not good enough to be here.” This feeling has a name—imposter syndrome, and it makes it hard for people to really own their successes. Imposter syndrome is common among even the most successful people, including Grand Circus alumni. Even wildly successful celebrities, like Tom Hanks and Tina Fey, have expressed feeling of self-doubt. 

Throughout coding bootcamps, we talk a lot about imposter syndrome, having a growth mindset and the importance of understanding that you do belong here, you are good enough and you can do it.

Here’s their best advice for combating imposter syndrome and embracing the skills and abilities you have.

Did you come into bootcamp with imposter syndrome? What would advice would you give to new developers to overcome those feelings?

Karina López

I was really worried about my ability to learn the material. What was helpful for me was trying to not ‘eat a whole cow’ in one sitting. What helped me when I was problem solving would be to look for solutions that were at my level. If that meant writing 20 lines of less-sophisticated code, I’d do that instead of trying to figure out the most sophisticated technology that did it in five lines of code that I did not understand. And remember that everyone has to start somewhere, you can’t compare your knowledge to those in your class or outside because we all come with different experiences. The important thing to keep the focus on your own growth.

-Karina López, DEVELOP(her) 2017, Grand Rapids

Christina Lee

“Once you begin to get comfortable with all these new skills you’re learning, start working on side projects to help boost your confidence! It’s easier to talk about something when you’re sure of yourself and what you know. Even something as small as doing one code challenge a day will help ease the imposter syndrome.

– Christina Lee, Front-End 2017, Detroit

Sloth IAbsolutely I did and still do. Something that helps me is to remember that once you are done with the bootcamp and are actively building things, you are now a developer.  Not a junior developer. You’re a developer.  The concept of a “junior developer” is the same as saying “I’m a jogger.”  No, you’re a runner.  Perhaps you don’t run 6-minute miles.  But if you’re picking up your feet and moving faster than a walk, you’re running.  Same thing with developing: experience and speed make the difference. If you’ve been developing “only” for a year, then you’re a developer with one year of experience.  Others may be full stack developers with ten years of experience. Fine. But we’re all developers… we’re just running at different speeds.

– Sloth I, Facebook Front-End, Grand Rapids

Christopher NamystYes, 100% and I still have it. Sometimes you just have to be you, and that your peers feel it also. We are all just doing the best we can.

– Christopher Namyst, Java & Facebook Front-End 2017, Detroit

Megan BoczaYes! It sounds silly, but doing some self-affirmations in the mirror in the morning helped me a lot.

– Megan Boczar, Java 2017, Detroit

Ariana WallerGet your feelings out quick. There is always someone better than you and someone who is not as good as you. You can do it, be so consumed in your own goals that other people’s progress doesn’t make you envious.”

– Ariana Waller, C# .NET 2017, Grand Rapids

Michelle Williams
“I did have imposter syndrome going into the bootcamp. I got over it when I realized that everyone in my bootcamp was there to learn just like I was. Nobody is there to judge you on what you know and how good you are. We all are just trying to learn how to become better developers.”

-Michelle Williams, front-end 2017, Detroit

Thanks for your advice, alumni. We’re here to support students along the journey to earning a career in tech, and are so excited to share words of wisdom from students. It takes practice, but overcoming Imposter Syndrome is totally possible!

Liked this post? Check out part one in the series: Alumni Wisdom Series: Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Coding Bootcamp