Have you ever felt that niggling voice at the back of your mind that says, “Hang on, am I really qualified for this role? Do I really know what I’m doing as a grad with literally no real experience?” Is this also accompanied by picturing scenes of security escorting you out of the building because your manager has finally found out you’re a fraud?
As students and fresh grads trying to establish yourselves in the workforce, imposter syndrome is common and very real. In 2021, SEEK found that 65% of those in junior management, mid-level or graduate roles have experienced imposter syndrome – so you’re definitely not alone. Even people who have been in their role for DECADES can feel this way, with around half (51% women, 47% men) having felt imposter syndrome at some point in their career.
While it’s only natural to have insecurities and self-doubt as a new-starter, when it becomes constant and repetitive, this type of thinking can be unproductive, damaging and begin to manifest itself into unhealthy work habits. It may not be a quick or easy fix, but here are five strategies that you can use to help you get one step closer to overcoming imposter syndrome.
1. Make a List of the Positives
A list is never a bad idea! Try writing down at least 5 things that show you’re qualified for the role that you have or are going after. Remember it's not always about tangible skills or the amount of experience you’ve had. Your strengths can lie in your attributes, your studies and other diverse perspectives you can bring to the table.
2. Own Your Accomplishments
Be proud of what you have achieved! A good way to do this writing down all the tasks you get done throughout the work week, even if it’s just a small win – you might surprise yourself with just how much you come up with. Now that you have these in concrete writing, try talking to other people about what you’ve accomplished e.g. keeping your manager in the loop at your weekly catch ups. This type of sharing can help you gain more self-confidence, satisfaction in your work and renewed energy to take on the next thing!
3. “Comparison is The Thief of Joy”
Theodore Roosevelt wasn’t lying – especially as students and new grads, it’s tempting to compare yourself to your peers and colleagues. But now more than ever, the internet, freelancing and gig work means there are so many different ways one can navigate their career path and achieve ‘success’. By being stuck on who else has achieved what and when, you could be putting unnecessary pressure and looking down on yourself when there’s absolutely no reason to be!
4. Accepting Less than Perfect
A common characteristic of imposter syndrome is trying to achieve perfectionism through your work, often in compensation of fear of getting 'found out’ and fired. The reality is most of the time this fear is completely irrational and that you’re actually doing a more than stellar job. As an intern or grad, one of the most important things to remember is that no one expects you to know everything! Now is the time where you should be experimenting, taking risks, making mistakes and, most importantly, acknowledging and learning from them.
5. Build a Supportive Network
Having a trusted support network can be crucial to helping you manage imposter syndrome. Talking to someone like your program mentor, manager or just a fellow colleague you trust can help alleviate some of your concerns and anxiety. Together you can look at setting achievable, realistic goals to try and help you manage expectations.