Join LinkedIn Learning Developer Instructor for an in-depth discussion in this video Impostor syndrome, part of Career Clinic: Developer Insights.
(light music) - So challenges that I face in the tech industry, I mean one of the big ones has just been everyday questioning whether I'm doing it right, whether I belong, whether there's gonna be somebody walk into the room and pointing at me and saying you know, you don't know what you're doing. Dealing with that has been a constant process of paying attention to when people compliment me and believing that they actually mean it and being able to take that in.
It's also been a question of just continuing on and doing it because as I code more, I get more confident in what I'm doing. I see that I build things, they don't break and I don't have people walking up to me in the street and saying you don't know what you're doing. And I think also part of development is actually building code that other people are working with and looking at. So your code is publicly exposed when your posting it to something lit GitHub. And if you're not, every time you post getting a bunch of people sending you messages saying this is ridiculous and it doesn't work, then if that's not happening, you're clearly doing something right and it's important to take that in and use that as a tool to help yourself recognize that yes, you do know what you're doing, you do have skills and experience to bear in this industry in the work that you're doing in development.
- I've been in situations where I am sure on paper that I am the expert. But there's somebody else in the room who seems like more of an expert. And I find myself second guessing my ability. You feel like an imposter sometimes. In my experience, the developers who don't feel that way ever, they're often the absolute worst developers and the code they right might be really complex and advanced, but no one else can understand it. And if there's a bug in it, there's only one person that can fix it.
And so that doesn't mean they're a good developer. That means they're a bad developer 'cause they're writing code that isn't very useful to the rest of the team. So for me, I'd much rather have somebody, work with somebody who has less experience and maybe second guesses themself a little bit, but is willing to work on code that every person on the team can understand. - I found that a lot of times it's surprising how much there is that other people don't know as well.
So I've certainly had times where I go an talk to a developer and I say, you know what, can you help me with this. I don't understand it. And they go straight to Google and look things up because they don't know it either. They might be ahead of me. They know more than me so they're able to refine the search to help me find what I need. But the reality is that often we can project on to other people a perfection that they don't have either. And so I think when we get past that, when we can kinda pull back that veneer a little bit and be vulnerable to say I don't know everything, that's when we can start to build those relationships that help us overcome the limitations that we have and to work together as a team on accomplishing things as a team.
- When I first started going to technical talks and going to conferences, I really felt like they were so much smarter than me because they stand up there and they have the stage and they have the mic and they looked like they're just, it's so intimidating. And when I started actually doing the meet up I realized that I spend weeks getting this PowerPoint slides and all my notes and everything in order. And I make sure that I understand it so that I can teach it. The only reason why those guys are so intimidating is because they spend all this time putting together their PowerPoint slides and their notes and they have everything in order.
It's not because they're smarter than us. It's because they prepared that talk. And when I prepared that talk, I learned that somebody would come along in my meet up and ask me to cover a specific topic. Well, I don't really know that topic but none of us do and it's an interesting topic. So I would go, and I would do some research, and I would put together a PowerPoint presentation. And I would get up there, and now I've learned it very well, so now if feel more confident with it. Now I can actually use this. But the reason why I learned it was because some guy came up and asked me to teach it. But there's no magic. It's not because I'm smarter.
That's not it. It's because I prepared that talk. - What I would say to anyone who is feeling like they're an imposter in their field is number one, most people feel that way. It's very common to feel like you don't know what you're doing. And number two, that it does go away after a while. It will probably never disappear. I still feel it to this day when I'm working on something and I lose confidence about being able to figure something out or I feel like it's taking me too long or I feel like I just can't make something work that I should be able to make work.
But it does get better over time as you start to solve problems, as you start to get some constructive feedback on your work, as you start to build up a catalog of things that you've completed, you learn how to handle it and realize that the feeling is normal, but you actually can solve problems and you can find solutions. (light music)