How I Avoid Imposter Syndrome

Osgood Gunawan
Dec 21, 2020 · 5 min read

This week’s blog is going to be different than usual. Let’s take a break from tech and talk about human beings. Recently I saw many people talking about imposter Syndrome in the job searching process. Imposter syndrome is a common experience for everyone; we all have been through imposter syndrome somewhere in our lifetime. Today I want to share my three simple principles on how I avoid imposter syndrome. I hope this article can help and reduce your imposter syndrome in many ways.

Don’t compare yourself with others.

The truth is hard not to compare yourself with others when everyone surrounding you is successful/gets a job. There are ways of diminishing this thought.

Every time I think about it, I tell myself that not everyone who got the job is a better developer than you. There are many factors why people got the job in the first place.

  • They are good at speaking and selling themselves.
  • They have an outgoing personality.
  • They get plenty of friends and family connections working in the industry.
  • They got into a special program. A lot of companies have a special program for different people. For instance: Grass Hopper Celebration (GHC) or the Military/Veteran program.
  • They are not international students no need visa requires
  • They born in America; thus, they speak better English than you, which mean leaving a better impression and experience for the interviewer(oh yeah, I see this a lot where someone got rejected because of their language barrier(https://leetcode.com/discuss/interview-experience/579010/NDA-Google-or-L3-or-Mar-2020-Reject)
  • Luck, yes, there is luck involved. For instance: Person A has a fantastic project about sports, while person B has an excellent project about books. The interviewer is a huge fan of sports; for that reason, person A has a more engaging interview experience with the interviewer, leaving the interviewer with a good impression. Person A gets an easy technical interview challenge, where person B gets hard ones. Person A is lucky to study the material they ask, while person B did not expect the interviewer to ask such questions.

Another way to avoid comparing is to collaborate. Don’t forget they have been in your shoes before; we should congratulate and make a closer connection with them. Who knows, one day they can refer you to their company.

Everyone has a timeline for getting a job. Some might get it in weeks, some might get it in months, and some might get it in years. For the people who got the job later, don’t worry. Sometimes good things come to those who wait. I have a friend in a Bootcamp, his friends in the same cohort got the job within a couple of weeks after graduation. Some got the job within 2–3 months, while it took him about 5 to 6 months to get the job. But the difference is that he got into one of the FAANG companies. He was not rushing, instead of honing his skill and waiting for his time to come.

Fall in love with the process

There are a couple of reasons you should fall in love with the job search process; this could be either in the technical or the job search process’s connecting and networking side.

The software engineering field is such a competitive industry. If you are not catching up with the trend, you will more likely get replaced by someone sooner or later. The truth is that companies rather hire someone with less total compensation for their savings. Instead, they will hire someone who knows the current trend of technologies better than you do and those who are younger and adapt faster than you.

I know many software engineers currently want to leave their company due to not having much learning growth experience or hate their team in general. For someone who wants a higher position, higher salary, and aiming for a bigger/better company, you better fall in love with the job search process.

This all comes back to job search 101. Sure, you might get the experience from the company you worked at, but that doesn’t mean you will pass the technical interview and get the job. I know people still struggle to get the second job from the first job they hate.

For me, I enjoy problem-solving with algorithms and data structures. At first, I was like everyone else who did algorithms and data structures for interview preparation only. But once I began to practice and get better at it, I started to enjoy it more. I can see myself even when I have a job; I would still be solving data structures and algorithm questions during my spare time. This is only one perspective; there are many ways you can find something to enjoy within the job search process, for instance, connecting and networking, building projects that you find interesting, enjoy learning a new language, learning new frameworks, and learning new libraries that you are excited to implement. You can always find ways to enjoy it once you practice more and get better at it.

Reward yourself

Remember to reward yourself for every milestone you accomplished and remember only to compare it to yourself. These are some examples that I reward myself:

  • Before, I only know how to do easy questions, and now I am getting better. Sometimes I even can do the medium ones.
  • Finish 200 more problems in leetcode or binarysearch.com
  • Able to optimize code solution time and space complexity
  • Able to finish questions on time within interview length.

Every new learning is always worth celebrating. It can be learning new technology stacks, languages, frameworks, libraries, system designs, data structures, algorithms, scalability systems, operating systems, anything. The Software Engineering field is a marathon, not a sprint. Rewarding yourself can motivate you to move forward, self-discipline, and consistent with your journey.

I understand that job searching could be irritable and intimidating. I follow these three simple principles to avoid imposter syndrome. I hope this can apply the same to you for reducing your imposter syndrome. Thank you once again for reading; I hope this article helps you gain something from it.

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