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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

By Tina Lansdell | Posted January 24, 2023

About my Job

I am a Software Engineer in Central Engineering Services in BC&IT, within the Customers business unit. My role involves building and managing a wide range of technical products which provide services used by staff within the business and interact with front-end applications used by customers. Most of my work is back-end focussed, mainly using Javascript with Terraform for infrastructure. All apps we build are cloud-based which I really like, so I use AWS a lot in my daily work and am studying for AWS Associate certification.

How I got into Data and Tech 

I studied Astrophysics at university with the intention of going into academia, but during my course, I realised this wasn’t the path for me. Through studying a module involving Python I discovered an interest in programming, however as I had no experience or portfolio, I didn’t believe I could make it a career. 

To get around this, I applied to graduate schemes involving on-the-job training and got accepted into the 2-year EDF Data and Tech scheme where I completed rotations across the company in a range of roles before streaming onto my current permanent role. 

“I’ve always enjoyed problem-solving - I view Software Engineering as the art of problem-solving using the medium of code.” 

Imposter syndrome is something I began to notice I was experiencing in university and has continued throughout my career. I would frequently experience doubts about my skills, the validity of my position, and my ability to succeed in future endeavours. It made me doubt I was capable of working in tech, however over time I have learnt some techniques to help. In the next part of the article, I’ll talk about this common issue and the steps others can take to overcome it.

Building the confidence to overpower imposter syndrome

As I write this I question what qualifies me to give advice on and discuss imposter syndrome, however, I feel this perfectly demonstrates my experience with it and why I should – imposter syndrome is an ongoing silent battle taking down the confidence and self-belief of so many people. 

Modern society is plagued with imposter syndrome and a lack of confidence, and unfortunately, this is particularly prevalent within the tech space. There are many potential contributing factors to this however when we spend all day focussed on optimising solutions and efficiency it can be so easy to subconsciously compare ourselves to others in the same cold, objective manner we do to code despite humans being significantly more complex and multifaceted. 

The end result is self-deprecation and self-doubt which can lead to a lack of confidence to speak out, contribute and take advantage of opportunities. This in turn can result in a lack of motivation and progression which may have been possible if not for comparing yourself to a curated impression you may have generated in your head of the skills and abilities of your colleagues and peers, despite the fact they are likely doing the same thing too! 

There is no quick fix to imposter syndrome, but we can learn to succeed in spite of it. Once I realised and accepted I was experiencing it as opposed to simply believing the negative thoughts, I was better equipped to recognise when my doubts about my technical ability and many other things were not logical or reality. It can be hard to detect when this happens, but I found it can really improve with practice if you stop and step back to consider this possibility when you are having self-doubts.

A wise man once told me “confidence is earnt”. This does not mean if you don’t feel confident you haven’t earnt it yet, but rather that true confidence is something you can only achieve with practice and putting the work in. Some take the approach of “fake it until you make it” which I have adopted myself for some things, and whilst I found it never directly gave me confidence, it helped me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I believed I would only be able to do if I had the confidence. This enabled me to practice which eventually developed into true confidence. Conversely, all experiences are valuable and if you have put the effort in, perhaps you should feel confident in your own abilities if you don’t already. Imposter syndrome could be all that is holding you back from true confidence, so be kind to yourself and be proud of your own achievements. 

Tackling imposter syndrome and confidence issues is an endless battle but once you free yourself from the worst of its grips you take more opportunities, enjoy life more, and realise you are capable of so much more than you imagined, I just wish I had figured this out sooner.

Goals and passions 

My passion is fitness and well-being, I’m currently training to be a competitive powerlifter which is something that has improved my confidence dramatically, taught me how to handle imposter syndrome, and showed me the importance of putting the work in. My dream is to one day combine this with my technical skills to create an inclusive fitness tracking app specialised in strength training, using AI to suggest workouts and nutritional guidance optimised to the users’ goals. I’m also passionate about spreading awareness of mental health issues, which is why I try to be open about my own struggles to create an environment where such discourse becomes commonplace.