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Let’s face it: Making a career switch can be scary. You’re probably not only intimidated by all the steps you have to take to successfully complete the transition, but also concerned whether you’ll fit in.

There’s a word for this latter feeling: imposter syndrome. And it’s a normal and common phenomenon for career changers, if not anyone who finds themselves in new territory. It’s also curable — we’ll show you how.

What is imposter syndrome, anyway?

Imposter syndrome, or fraud syndrome, is often used to describe workers or individuals who doubt their skillsDoubts and Fears Getting in the Way of Your Future Career? TripleTen Students Share Ways to Fight Them, contributions, or self-worth. You feel out of place at your company, on your team, or within a certain group — like an “imposter” — because you worry you’re not at the same level or on the same page as others.

This could manifest in symptoms such as:

  • Not raising your hand in meetings when you have an idea or something to say
  • Letting a coworker take over a project you were capable of handling
  • Telling your friends you’re doing terrible in your job without any concrete evidence
  • Not applying to jobs you’re qualified for out of fear of failure
  • Being jealous of or feeling like a fraud around high-achieving individuals at your level
  • Nitpicking your personality traits or allowing your mental health to deteriorate

TripleTen career coach Sharahn McClung, who regularly works with professionals making the switch to tech, similarly defines it as someone who’s “not in touch with their accomplishments and their competencies.” This is because most of the time, imposter syndrome is happening inside your head, and it’s not an actual reflection of how others perceive you. “One of the things that I say again and again in this space is just because you haven’t done something before doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing,” she said.

Imposter syndrome, and the feelings associated with it, don’t have to be all bad. Making the leap into tech from a completely unrelated field tends to mean starting from square one, so of course you’re going to feel out of your element. In fact, it’s healthy and productive to have the self-awareness to know you may not have the skills or confidence yet to pursue a specific role or path. With that humility, you’re much more able and willing to do what it takes to build those skills and that confidence.

If you can make a front-end page, guess what, you’re a front-end software engineer. You may be a very new one or you may not be a very accomplished one, but you still have the tools that you’ll use again and again and again to develop different levels of competencies. Sharahn McClung, TripleTen career coach

5 tips for overcoming imposter syndrome

Below, we’ve outlined our best tips — backed by expert insights — for how to overcome imposter syndrome, no matter where you are in your career journey.

1. Give it a name

“To be able to articulate and name the thing is really the first step,” Sharahn said. When you identify what it really is — a fleeting, unproductive, and inaccurate emotion — you can more easily let it fall away and replace it with something more inspiring or motivating.

How? Just reflect on the imposter syndrome symptoms we highlighted above.

  • If the majority of the situations mentioned sound like you, you likely have imposter syndrome
  • Even experiencing only one of the above symptoms might be a sign you’re dealing with imposter syndrome

This sounds like the simplest step, and it is indeed the one that needs the least explanation, but it is one that is absolutely crucial. To solve a problem, you must first identify it.

2. Celebrate your strengths

It’s easy to harp on the stuff we’re bad at, but much less intuitive to take the time to celebrate what we’re excelling in.

Every time you get a compliment, hit a deadline, attract your boss’s attention, land a client, or achieve some win, big or small, make sure it gets its due. Some ideas:

  • Write it down on a Post-it Note and stick it to your monitor or desk
  • Spend five minutes at the end of the day listing three things you did well that day
  • Turn positive feedback into a mantra you repeat to yourself regularly
  • Give yourself a small treat or gift each time you surpass a personal goal
  • Brag to your friends and family (they won’t judge!)

Over time, you’ll see just how much you accomplish and contribute every day — and forget about that silly imposter feeling.

3. Talk to people

You know how we said imposter syndrome is common? Well, it’s so common, you probably have a friend, family member, colleague, or all of the above who has or is currently experiencing it.

Leaning on those you love and trust can help remind you that you’re not alone in your journey. Your network can also be a great avenue for getting advice on how to overcome feelings of inadequacy and help you gather intel on whether you’re actually falling behind like you think you are. If you’re not, you can rest assured others see you in a more positive light than you see yourself. And if you are, you’ll at least know exactly what you need to work on and have a concrete plan to feel more confident.

Here are some ways to approach this:

  • Take your manager or a trusted colleague out to coffee or lunch as an informal performance review
  • Ask friends or family to evaluate an experience you had at work with an unbiased lens
  • Read books, listen to podcasts, or follow influencers who have similar stories to yours
  • Send a cold email or LinkedIn message to someone you admire asking if you can pick their brain about their career path

“One perspective is not going to cut it when we’re alone with the self-talk. So this means having access and resources to experience other people’s perspectives,” Sharahn said. “We all don’t know everything. And it’s easy to forget that.”

4. Outline the worst-case scenarios

Our minds are quick to jump to the worst-case scenarios when we’re afraid. But the worst-case scenario is often not what’s actually going to occur — and it’s often something we can control.

So put it out in the open: Maybe it’s not getting a role after a bootcamp. Or failing out of the bootcamp. Or getting laid off after landing your dream tech job.

These are real concerns, no doubt. But once you’ve outlined them (in writing is sometimes best!), you can start to think about what you’d do if they really came true. You can reflect on what you have now as a way of projecting possible responses. For example:

  • Remind yourself of your financial cushion or the other jobs you could pursue or the potential for starting your own business instead
  • Remember that you’re excited about this new path, so even if your learning environment is a challenge, you’re going to give it your best shot

Knowing that you have a backup plan or two and that you’ve maybe overcome even more complicated situations before can give you some reassurance in place of your imposter syndrome.

5. Embrace new opportunities and curiosity

Building the kind of confidence that scares away imposter syndrome takes practice. Which is why it could help to put yourself in new situations, such as:

  • Raising your hand for ambitious assignments at work
  • Collaborating with a new department or team member
  • Attending a networking event where you don’t know anyone
  • Taking on a side project or business venture

Go in with the mindset that failure is part of the process. Through failure and exposure, you’ll get more comfortable with not being perfect all the time, and instead see every new challenge as an opportunity for growth.

“The fears and trepidation that can come around, ‘Well, what should I do?’ or, ‘How should I do it?’ or, ‘What’s somebody going to think?’ That stuff is more easily to fall away when we focus on curiosity,” Sharahn said.

The best way to fight imposter syndrome: gain mastery

When you know your stuff, self-doubt doesn’t have a place to linger. A bootcamp is one great way to master your craft, and with a program like TripleTen, you’ll not only gain valuable skills, but also a reliable network of experts who can keep imposter syndrome at bay through their advice, mentorship, and connections. 

Bootcamps are becoming increasingly as pertinent to employers as a CS degree or certificateSwitch to Tech for Jobs that Pay 80K a Year (Without a CS Degree!), with our latest report that surveyed over 1,000 decision makers finding that 79% of hiring managers consider candidates from nontraditional backgrounds, and 86% are confident or very confident about recruiting bootcamp grads.

You’ll also have the opportunity to learn beside others who overcame their imposter syndrome with massive success. Take TripleTen graduate Ryan ElmachtoubBuilding a data science skill set with an engineering background, who was doubtful about breaking into data science after working as a mechanical engineer and worried it wasn’t a safe decision to invest in his education. “At first — I would say the first couple of weeks — I kept having these thoughts, like maybe I’m not cut out for this. I was trying, and it just wasn’t clicking,” he said.

But his initial hesitation quickly evaporated when he delved into the program. “Throughout the curriculum, the TripleTen team was great. We had weekly Zoom meetings. They were encouraging us and saying that it’s normal to feel that way. It was what I needed to hear at the moment, and it helped me keep a positive mindset,” he said. After completing his bootcamp, he received three job offers and accepted a hybrid position he now loves.

See if a bootcamp is right for you

Know before you buy, as the saying goes. TripleTen makes it super easy for aspiring career changers to forge their path with a five-minute assessment (seriously, it’s that fast) that tells you if a bootcamp is right for you before you sign up.

Is a bootcamp right for you?

Discover your ideal path to tech by taking our quiz.

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