Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as a Developer

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

By Shahla Aliyeva


Did you know that half of the employees at Amazon, Microsoft,  Facebook, and Google deal with imposter syndrome? Well, now, you know. Imposter syndrome is among the challenges most employees face, including junior and even senior developers.


What is Imposter Syndrome?

This is a chronic feeling of self-doubt and inadequacy at the workplace. It is when you feel like you are a fraud despite having the right training and several successful projects in web development under your name. Research shows that most female developers experience imposter syndrome, though the condition also affects male developers.


Several factors cause imposter syndrome in the field of software engineering. The obvious one is the fact that web development is fast evolving, so there's an urge to know everything. A bad work environment and not understanding the job description, among other aspects, can also cause imposter syndrome.


How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

As a developer, you must overcome imposter syndrome so as not to lose focus, and most importantly, to advance in your career. But how do you overcome this condition? That's what we are going to share with you today.


1. Accept the Reality

To beat imposter syndrome, you must first accept that you have the condition. And it's not just about acknowledging that you have the problem, know that it is something most developers go through. It's only after this that you will develop a positive attitude. Self-denial will only make matters worse, and in the long run, it could be detrimental to your career progression and worse enough, kill your morale and self-esteem.


2. Understand the Problem

Imposter syndrome among developers is mostly caused by the fact that the industry is wide, and fast-evolving such that you can't know everything. Once you understand this, you will be comfortable, even with the uncomfortable fact that there's a lot to learn. This way, you won't feel like you are a fraud in software engineering, and it also builds your confidence and the spirit of learning.


3. Get a Peer

Nothing sucks like being in a situation alone. If you have imposter syndrome, find another developer in the same boat and talk about your problems. A peer could be a fellow workmate, a friend from another department experiencing the same, or an online community for developers. It can also be helpful to associate with senior developers and mentors who can guide you in areas where you feel you have inadequacies. Avoid mean and boastful workmates as they will make you think that, indeed, you are a fraud.


4. Track and Celebrate Goals

Many developers tend to forget their past achievements, and this significantly contributes to the mixed feelings of inability to complete projects at hand. Make sure you track all your goals and don't forget to celebrate the little achievements. This builds your confidence as a developer and helps you scale greater heights in current and future projects. Tracking and celebrating goals cultivate the 'I can do’ spirit.


5. Understand the Job Description

In many job advertisements and job descriptions, you may find some heavy words and technologies that you aren't familiar with. These make you feel like you are not the right fit for the job, but in most instances, this is not the case. Some technologies are a reserve for specific industries and are only learned when you have hands-on experience at the company. What's most important is understanding the core requirements.


There you have it folks, five ways to beat imposter syndrome as a developer. So the next time you feel out of place, know that it's a condition that affects almost every developer at some stage. Just learn how to manage the feelings, know the source of your insecurities, and adjust accordingly.