5 Ways to Fight the Impostor Syndrome

impostor syndromeThe impostor syndrome is on everyone’s lips recently, especially in the programming world. Ever had a terrible feeling that you aren’t good enough? That what you are doing is not sufficient? That everyone else know more than you do? You’re not alone. 

The impostor syndrome is a persistent feeling that it’s a matter of time till you will be exposed as a fraud. It usually affects high-achieving individuals who find it hard to be proud or happy about their accomplishments. They feel like they don’t deserve a success they achieved. What’s interesting, they attribute good timing, luck or ability to fool others, as reasons why they succeeded.

It happens that despite our knowledge, me and my teammates have such negative thoughts about our skills from time to time. The scale of the problem might be discouraging. Impostor syndrome has affected approximately almost 70% of population and we’re not talking about developers only! What’s more difficult though is actually fighting the impostor syndrome. That’s why we’ve gathered few tips which are working for us!

1. Cooperate

Contributing to a developers’ community is something that works wonders while coping with impostor syndrome. Our teammates mentioned that doing code reviews for other developers is their rubber duck for low self-esteem. What’s really important here is a positive attitude towards code review. Don’t be scared of doing it! It helps you and the community, what could be wrong with that?

Pair programming is another really helpful invention. Paired developers are less likely to make mistakes in their code, which results in a higher quality code. Not to mention that everyone can share their knowledge in a painless way. Pair programming can also increase morale, which is a relevant part of fighting impostor syndrome.

2. Work hard, train hard

Work hard! And we’re not talking about your gym achievements. Remember to constantly learn new things and broaden your horizons. You can attend supplementary trainings or tech talks. Reading insightful newsletters or watching tutorials on YouTube might help. Whatever works – possibilities are endless! Just don’t stay still. Evolve. If you have problems with being productive check out one of our previous posts about it 6 Tips How to Be More Productive Every Day.  You will see that constant self-development can help you believe in yourself. Of course, if you’re a perfectionist, you will never be 100% pleased with yourself. But you have to try, right?

3. Take your time

Junior developers in particular have problems with being content about their work. There are many questions that are troubling their thoughts. When do I stop being a junior? How much do I know? How much can I offer? We have to calm you down. It’s completely natural to have such doubts.

Impostor syndrome tends to hit junior developers, but it affects seniors as well. Is it possible that in the world full of professionals, everyone is a fraud? We don’t think so. It means that impostor syndrome can happen to anyone, but… it gets better with time. While it sounds like a Paulo Coelho quote, it’s true! Your experience as a developer and time spent on self-development matter a lot. Is it comforting that it won’t always be like that? We hope so!

4. Find a good place of work

Your workplace has a huge impact on your well-being. What projects are you working on? Is your team supportive and friendly? Does the atmosphere there suits you? Do you have work-life balance and possibilities to develop your skills? Answer those questions and try to look for a workplace which will help you have a fulfilling and happy life.

At Sunscrapers, we put a big emphasis on our team’s well-being. We know how much it means to work in a cheerful and enriching environment. That’s why even if one of our teammates is struggling with impostor syndrome, we are here to comfort them. Our support blended with a chunk of laughter helps with any low self-esteem issues!

5. Share your knowledge

We are sure that you’re thinking right now: “Yeah, right. How can I teach others if I lack knowledge?”. You couldn’t be more wrong. Obviously, if you take part in pair programming or code reviews, you already noticed that you don’t know everything. But you know SOMETHING. Try to recall situations where you knew a solution for your partner’s problem. It could be a small thing like a tiny bug that was hiding between the code lines. But you helped him. Teaching others might be a solution for overcoming the impostor syndrome. Go to Quora or Stackoverflow and look at other people’s questions. Try to answer them. You will be surprised how many issues you can solve! Maybe you’re not that inexperienced as you think?

impostor syndrome
Impostor syndrome vs. reality

We know that it’s not easy to overcome the impostor syndrome. There is no golden rule that will work for everyone, neither fast nor easy way to do this. Hopefully with our tips and some positive attitude you will be able to fight your low-esteem demons. Believe in yourself, take your time and remember – you are awesome!

The complete list of our tech talks

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See the complete list of available presentations from our weekly tech talks!

Every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. our team gathers in a conference room to participate in a presentation prepared by one of us. The topic of the speech can concern tech (IT, project management) and soft skills (work culture, communication).

 

We explain our idea in this post: Our work culture: weekly tech talks.

For a video of each talk, please click on the title below: 

1. Reactive programming – Jakub Włodaczyk 

2. Meta catch-ups – Łukasz Karwacki

3. Foundations of Foundation 6 – Jakub Włodaczyk 

4. Our work culture – Łukasz Karwacki

5. Interruptions at the team level – Łukasz Karwacki

6. Creating value for customers – Łukasz Karwacki

7. Design focused development – Przemek Lewandowski  

8. Going remote!

9. Main rules of web design – Dawid Domański 

10. Visitors tracking tools – Konrad Hałas

11. Quick guide to virtualization – Szymon Teżewski

12. Flat Design – Dawid Domański

13. Tmux and screen inception 

14. Aircraft spotting – Konrad Hałas

15. Scrum and XP from the Trenches – Przemek Lewandowski

16. Semantic HTML – Szymon Teżewski

17. The art of writing emails – Łukasz Karwacki 

18. Introduction to ReactJS – Comparison to AngularJS 2 – Robert Piękoś (pl)

19. DVCS Workflows for Teams – Bartek Rychlicki

 

20. Swift – Krzysztof Skarupa

21. Django ORM – Marcin Markiewicz

22. How to justify your recommendation – Łukasz Karwacki

Our work culture: English Wednesdays

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What are English Wednesdays?

One day a week all teammates are encouraged to speak English only for the whole day. This means that not only our meetings are held in English but also our lunch time and informal conversations as well as all written communication via emails and Slack.

Why do we do that?

All of us have been learning English since primary school which means we have a long track record with that language. The only problem is that state education favors writing and reading rather than speaking. That results in people being rather shy or restrained about having regular conversations in English.

That is definitely a problem for some offshore companies as it cannot be ignored that English is in the centre of programming languages, documentation, best books and events. We’ve realised that if we want to compete with the best dev shops for the best international projects we need to make English our second mother-language and there is no shortcut around that.

That’s why we came up with English Wednesdays: to actively and regularly improve our English skills on all levels so that the language barrier between us and our clients ceases to exist. It’s also good fun to break up our work week with such an untypical routine (just imagine the faces of postman and food delivery guys when we start answering them in a different language!).

What are the biggest challenges?

Implementing changes in the workplace has to gain an approval of all teammates. That’s why one of the biggest challenges is ensuring that everyone understands why we organize English Wednesdays so that one feels comfortable with them. We truly trust that only the true inner motivation and the desire to achieve higher skill level turns into better results.

That matters especially when new people join our company. It’s important to explain to them our goals and show them potential benefits of this kind of learning. There is a significant role of the rest of the team who have been working with us longer. They provide ‘freshmen’ with  support and motivate them to keep speaking English even when we take up difficult topics.

The last but not least challenge is correcting each other. During our conversations it’s hard to represent  a teacher’s approach i.e. point out and correct mistakes. That’s why several weeks ago we’ve decided to add professional English lessons to our daily agenda. Our English teacher gives us useful pronunciation tips, explains grammar difficulties and introduces sophisticated vocabulary – all of which significantly speed up our learning process

Let’s talk about the effects

What results have we achieved since introducing English Wednesdays? The benefits are invaluable.

First of all, we all have a frequent contact with English which results in the increased speaking fluency. We now feel fully comfortable with switching from Polish to English no matter the situation.

What’s particularly important to our work, we’re able to communicate with our clients more effectively. As a result, their trust has increased as well as the mutual pleasure of collaboration. They see us as a reliable partner who can fully engage in their project without any language barriers.

Other important benefits include broader learning possibilities. English gives us wider access to knowledge. We gain more from international IT scene: conferences, events, presentations and literature.

At Sunscrapers we create unique development possibilities and English Wednesdays are just one piece of our outstanding work culture. There will be time to talk about the rest of them, which are: tech Thursdays, code reviews, our library and other. Our purpose is to ensure that every teammate has all means to become a better version of himself.

Our work culture

5 things that define us as a team and make us unique.

1. Client’s happiness comes first

  • forget about your ego
  • treat clients with respect and authority
  • be there for our clients when they need you
  • listen to our clients,  strive to understand them and provide them with what they really need
  • remember that remote relationship requires extra care

2. Quality is assumed by default

  • think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it
  • always check the quality of your work
  • always have somebody else to check the quality of your work
  • use your gut to assess quality

3. Provide value

  • get things done
  • be proactive, strive to deliver extra value and aim for the “wow” effect
  • save client’s time and effort

4. Be professional

  • do what’s best for Sunscrapers
  • be prompt, articulate and concise in communication
  • admit mistakes and suggest solutions
  • find courage to provide constructive feedback
  • share knowledge and learn from others
  • cockney accent is a must

5. Remember that life’s good

  • be optimistic – you’re doing what you love (hopefully) and you’re not doing bad
  • be excited – there’s still lots you can learn
  • be thankful for our team and our clients

This presentation is a part of Sunscrapers’ weekly talks.