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Discussion on: The Imposter Syndrome. Why you feel like a fake.

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jselbie profile image
John Selbie

I've been following this site pretty regularly (via FB) for the past few months and occasionally send links to some of the well written posts out to my team that I manage.

I've been in the business a while as a software engineer and manager. Where I work, a lot of issues pertaining to tech life get discussed openly in the hallway and in private 1:1 meetings. This includes health, depression, personal feelings, family issues, relationships, job satisfaction, and career goals. But I've never had anyone discuss "imposter syndrome" as it pertains to them or someone they knew. And I never heard of it until I started frequenting this site.

And the closest I've ever come to experiencing anything like IC is described as was when I was starting out in my first job. I got thrown into a code base that was 250K lines of C++ and started feeling overwhelmed and doubting myself. But that feeling went away after about a week when I started checking in code.

This has got me wondering:

  1. Is Imposter Syndrome actually a thing? :) Honestly, I'm not trying to troll, it's just I had NEVER heard of IC until I started frequenting this site.

  2. Is IC something that is unique or predominant in the tech industry as compared to other professions?

  3. There are almost as many posts about IC found on this site as there are about SQL and React.js. Is this topic of personal importance to the founders of dev.to, or did it organically grow as a topic here?

  4. Most important. I lead a team of engineers with various levels of experience and success. New hires from college and industry are starting up on my team all the time. How would I go about recognizing someone as experiencing Imposter Syndrome and what can I do as a team lead and manager to coach them through it?

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lewismenelaws profile image
Lewis Menelaws Author

Loved the reply John. Also, welcome to the community. Let me answer each question in the order you sent me :)

  1. Yes Imposter Syndrome is actually a thing. Primarily it's a thing when first entering the field or job like you said above or when a big change happens within yourself. Sometimes it's anti-climactic which makes us think that this line of work isn't for us, especially considering that today you might do well while the next day you don't.

  2. It is not exclusive to the tech industry. It happens in lots of different fields. It's a scary thing.

  3. Since dev.to is a community of developers, a lot of range of topics come up. My last post about burnout as a developer went huge on this website and I think it's mostly because as developers we want to feel similar as well as we learn new languages. Sometimes learning is best when you can also reflect on yourself (or the whole industry).

  4. Although it can be dangerous, I do think that every developer needs to feel the imposter syndrome on some level. However, you as a manager need to realise that sometimes devs will run into times where they feel like they aren't qualified or aren't right for the job. When you spend too much time on a problem, it's easier to give up rather than taking a break and thinking about it from an outside perspective.

Thanks for the comment John, it really made me step away from my keyboard and think through it all.