Have You Experienced Imposter Syndrome?

Today we visited Workday, a large company that provides a single system for finance, HR and planning. Helena talked to our group about imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you do not belong and you’re not good enough and you do not deserve to be where you are today. This is the second time in two days that someone mentioned imposter syndrome. When visited Google our tour guide Azeez explained that he experienced imposter syndrome when he was just starting his job in intense training. He felt that he did not belong and he was not good enough to work at Google his first couple weeks on the job. His advice is to remember that you’re there for a reason. It may not feel that you’re prepared but there is a reason the company hired you.

Google and Workday are both very large business with many employees and I can see how you could easily feel like a small fish in a big pond. It seems that each business tries to create a culture to help with this feeling of not belonging. Google has amazing facilities like a gym, creative space, music rooms and even relaxation rooms to help make employees feel at home. Workday had a large game room on the top floor where offices of the top managers of a company would be. But at Workday, anyone is allowed to hang out on the cool top floor. Employees from Workday explained that it is easy to talk to anyone and ask for help. No employee has their own office, so all the employees from the senior president to an intern are working in close proximity to each other. When they hire they say they are looking for people that are weird, smart and kind. They value the experience of their employees because they know that if their employees are having an enjoyable experience working at Workday, then their customers are more likely to satisfied.

The term imposter syndrome really resonated with me as I have experienced imposter syndrome a couple times in my life, I just did not know there was a term for it. When I was first accepted into Pitt business I felt that I was not good enough to take the business school classes. Even though I had done well in my classes prior at Pitt’s Deitrich school of arts and sciences, I felt I just was not a “business person” and therefore I would not be successful. I was scared I was not as prepared as the other business students that started freshman year. I also did not feel confident to go to the career conferences or business interviews the first couple weeks in the business school. Although as I was taking classes, my goal was to just try my best and learn as much as I could through each business class. I also started to meet more people in the business school and I asked questions to people that I knew were in the business school for a while. The business classes I was taking were some of the most interesting and enjoyable classes that I have taken at Pitt. Looking back I am so thankful that I decided to transfer to Pitt business because it is exactly where I belong.

If a colleague tells me that she is experiencing imposter syndrome I would suggest a couple of things. First, I would make sure to explain to them that they are here for a reason and they got hired because they are in fact qualified for the job. They were hired because they create value for the company and soon enough they will feel more comfortable in their role. I would tell my colleague about my experience with it and let them know that it is a very common feeling to have. I would also suggest to ask questions to coworkers and try to build relationships with other employees. It helps if you get involved in any way that the company offers, for example, some companies have clubs or societies that you can join to meet coworkers with similar interests. If you’re feeling imposter syndrome it’s important to know that you are there because of your successes in the past and you are definitely capable of the job you were hired for!

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