Opinion

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome in Tech

Cartoon man on a yellow background, 3 speech bubbles come from his mouth.Preview: Cartoon man on a yellow background, 3 speech bubbles come from his mouth.

Around 70% of tech workers feel as if they are imposters who only got to where they are due to blind luck, or by appearing to peers as being more intelligent than they feel they actually are.

This feeling is known officially as ‘Imposter Syndrome’, which is loosely defined as irrationally doubting your skills & abilities and having an internalised fear of being a ‘fraud’. It’s an all-too-common feeling not just in the tech industry but the professional and academic work environment as a whole.

This blog aims to tackle any fears and insecurities that might add unnecessary stress to anyone regardless of where they are in their career path and provide helpful tips on ways to overcome Imposter Syndrome at work or when learning as it’s something that can get the better of all of us, but only if we allow it to do so.

You are not alone

Tech workers and software engineers commonly suffer from Imposter Syndrome due to the ever-changing nature of the tech industry.

The feeling that you are undeserving of your current position as a worker in tech is one challenge many of our students and tutors at Northcoders may have faced at some point. In fact, tech workers and software engineers commonly suffer from Imposter Syndrome due to the ever-changing nature of the tech industry.

In fact, the last few years have shown us that remarkable steps are being made in the space such as massive advancements in Artificial Intelligence and developments in virtual and extended reality spaces.

With new technologies constantly emerging alongside the continued growth of the tech industry as a whole, it’s no wonder many people feel like they’re buckling under the pressure of the rapidly developing world of tech, and for newcomers looking to break into the tech industry, it can seem off-putting.

Sarah, one of our mentors and a former student at Northcoders had this to say;

“Someone from a later cohort told me to trust in the process and not worry about expecting to understand everything right away.”

Sarah also adds;

“The more experienced I’ve become, the more I realise that experience doesn’t actually give you that much more knowledge, it just makes you more comfortable with the not knowing.”

Question any negative thoughts

How did I manage to get this far?

Someone suffering from Imposter Syndrome usually will have an irrational thought process where they may harshly criticise themselves in their own head, or go to great lengths to convince themselves of something about themselves that’s not true.

Whether you’re a fresh recruit in the tech world or a grizzled veteran in coding or data engineering, it’s only natural that you may have those days where you feel like you’re not good enough or you'll wonder how on earth you managed to get as far as you have.

If you ever feel this way, perhaps try applying that same logic inversely. Instead of painstakingly thinking about every reason why you think you’re bad at something, try thinking about every reason you’re good at something.

Try thinking about the challenges you’ve faced, the tasks you’ve accomplished and the decisions you’ve made leading up to the moment you’re in right now.

Then ask yourself again; “How did I get this far?” and you’ll notice that in your head the tone of that question has shifted from a negative to a positive one. It sounds simple, but reminding yourself often of your achievements will keep them fresh in your memory. After that, it becomes a lot harder to be unfair to yourself.

It's more important to try and fail, than to not try at all

Keep an open mind.

It's more important to try and fail than to not try at all.

Any mistakes you make along your path to becoming a software developer or a data engineer are all part of the learning experience. They are only natural and people at any level in their career are bound to make mistakes at some point.

If you make a mistake, the best way to overcome it is by reframing your mistake as an opportunity to learn something new or develop a new skill little by finding out what works and what doesn’t.

Learning from experience is key to succeeding in any career, and if you are someone looking to enrol in our coding academy then our tutors at Northcoders are there to make your experience better. They are there to help you when you have questions and can help you learn the most from your mistakes as you continue to skill up over the 12-week long Bootcamp.

You are where you are for a reason, avoid comparing yourself to others and focus on what you have accomplished whether it be by yourself or as part of a team. Due to the nature of the tech world, every coder is able to work in their own unique way.

Northcoders learners work on their code in the Manchester Hub.Preview: Northcoders learners work on their code in the Manchester Hub.
Keep track of your achievements

Finally, we suggest that you can always make things easier by putting together a portfolio of work or personal blog or journal that details the work you’ve done, and the experience you’ve gained and will continue to gain as you move further and further forward in your career.

Putting together a document of hard evidence for yourself forces you to reflect and evaluate the work that you’ve accomplished so that when you do feel that pressure building up, you have something to look at that proves to you that you’ve climbed these hurdles before and that you can continue to be capable of doing great things.

Having something concrete that you can look at to remind yourself of your professional development throughout your career and prove to yourself that you have made progress, it becomes a lot more difficult for you to start sowing the seeds of self-doubt and helps to keep you thinking realistically and clearly.

To close, there are plenty of ways you can overcome imposter syndrome at work and the key is to always be mindful of what you’ve achieved. You’ve managed to get to where you are for a reason and because of that, you deserve to be where you are. If anything, it means at least someone has recognised your skills as an individual. There always will be someone that has faith in your abilities and wants you onboard.

If a tech career starting with the help of our Northcoders Bootcamp sounds like something you're interested in, you can apply for a position on our next cohort on our website, or read more about the course here.