How I Got Over Career Impostor Syndrome

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This morning an interesting article popped up in my feed entitled “6 Ways to Get Over Impostor Syndrome and Get the Job You Want”.  According to the author, Jillian Kramer, Impostor Syndrome is “”the feeling that we just don’t stack up to our coworkers and job competitors, that we sneaked in on pure luck, and that we just don’t belong.”  I certainly know what that feels like.  I had struggled with these feelings when I first started working as the Educational Technology Manager at The Master’s University.

My Problem

In early 2015, the University decided to expand the support of their Learning Management System (then Joule/Moodle) from a 10 hr/week support position to a full Educational Technology Department.  I was hired to head up that initiative.  Immediately feelings of inadequacy and fear came crashing in.  There was little documentation and even less training.  What if I wasn’t good enough? How can I possibly support users in a field I hadn’t studied? What if I let my employers down? What business did I really have being here anyway? 

“Step 1: Remember you’re not alone”

I felt inadequate because I was working in a position that was outside my field of study.  While I had intentionally picked communications as my major for its ability to translate across multiple careers, switching to education felt like quite the jolt.
This is not uncommon. According to a report by CareerBuilder, one-third of college-educated workers do not work in occupations related to their college major.

“Step 2: Tally your talents”

The first key to getting over Career Impostor Syndrome was to stop limiting my perceived abilities to what I had formally majored in.  I had forgotten the three years of prior experience I had at the college working as both a technician and project assistant, and several years before that working in multiple roles in my father’s company.  Through those experiences I could confidently say I knew how to:

  • Communicate effectively with customers, end users, and vendors
  • Research and troubleshoot
  • Support and interact with people across all strata of the organization
  • Create technical documentation and train end users.

My Solution

“I made a promise to myself to read at least one article a day.”

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Early-on in my role I made a promise to myself to read at least one article a day.  I scrounged the internet for the most popular forums and blogs in my field. I subscribed to anything that seemed helpful.  Slowly I began to wade through a mountain of information. Even if I didn’t understand everything they were saying or feel it pertained to me in the moment, I was at least able to identify trends in the industry.  Slowly, very slowly at first, I began to have results:

  • I was able to speak knowledgeably and confidentially on a wide variety of topics.
  • I had a good thumb on the pulse of the industry and was able to quickly provide information as needed.
  • I was able to identify key players in the industry and network with them.
  • I was able to identify trends that may impact the university in the future.
  • I was better able to help advise faculty and help them find the right tools or methodologies to meet their needs

“I promised to only save the best articles that I would be willing to read again or share with others.”

As I began accumulating this warehouse of information, I quickly realized I needed a system to file everything.  It was then that I made a second promise to myself to only save the best articles that I would be willing to read again or share with others.  I created a folder hierarchy on my laptop to allow me to easily locate any information on a topic.  Over the past two years I’ve amassed a few hundred of these “best of the best” articles or posts.  It has revolutionized my confidence and has greatly helped me through several major projects and initiatives.

Recently, I’ve begun experimenting with using TheBrain as a better tool to save my information. The ability to see relationships between information is exciting and I love the ability to access my information on any device.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have you struggled with Career Impostor Syndrome? Comment below with helpful tips.

Photo Credit: Juan Pablo Benavente Maturana and Artform Canada

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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