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Imposter Syndrome: What Every Intern Must Know Before Disaster Strikes
February 22, 2018
What It’s Really Like Interning In DC

Imposter Syndrome is a real thing, and every intern should know about it before disaster strikes in the self esteem department.

“Do I really know what I am doing, or am I just a big fake?” It’s that little voice inside that says you don’t quite stack up to your classmates, coworkers, job competitors – and hey, maybe even your siblings. We’re not here to judge, but seriously? That little voice is just a big lying liar.

Fact: You didn’t get where you are today without putting in the work.

Another truth is that you’re not the first, last or only one to feel inferior. It’s so common that it even has a name. It’s called imposter syndrome. It affects everyone from time to time, even when they know deep down that they’re good at what they do. Sometimes, we just can’t help but feel like the sky is going to fall down on us any second, but please – rest your nerves, Chicken Little. If you let those feelings fester, they’re going to start doing some serious damage.

Imposter syndrome can be so severe that it limits your job prospects.

Danielle LaPorte calls it an upper limit problem.

“When the stakes are high or when the success is more than you’ve experienced before, upper limit problems can strike. You rain on your own parade.”

Some people become paralyzed by their fears of not being as good as they led others to believe. It can even start to impact your performance while on the clock and stall career movement. But the only person that you are hurting is yourself, and that’s a disaster.

Break Through Those Mental Barriers

So, how can you make sure that imposter syndrome doesn’t happen to you?

We’re going to break it down and give you some strategies to help you prevent or overcome imposter syndrome.

We have one goal in mind: we want to help you restore the confidence you need to crush your internship and get the job you want.

  • You’re Not Alone – At some point, we all feel like we’re imposters in our positions. Even famous high achievers feel that way. It just might help to pull you out of your funk.
  • Self-Audit Your Talents – Everyone brings a different set of valuable skills to the table. Tally your own assets, strengths and skills.
  • Embrace the positive feedback that you get from others. Never shrug it off! This will help you better understand your value in your current position as well as in any future positions you take.
  • Speak to a Mentor – If you feel like you can’t compare to your fellow interns, coworkers, or potential job candidates, talk to your career mentor for an honest evaluation. They may help you get to the bottom of these feelings. Just doing that and observing yourself is often enough to put your inferiority complex to rest.
  • Consider Taking Action to Improve Skills – If you still feel like your imposter syndrome might be real, consider taking a class or volunteering to beef up your skills. No one is just born an expert at everything; you have to work at it. So, put in some extra time if you feel that you need it, and remember that with knowledge come skills, and with skills come confidence.
  • Have a Mantra – In times of career doubt, a mantra can provide real motivation and give you the boost of confidence you need to push forward. Make yours something positive and productive. It can be as simple as telling yourself, “I am competent.” Remember Muhammed Ali’s “I am the greatest!” Maybe he was repeating it until he believed it himself Who knows? Just choose something that speaks to you and will help you push away those feelings of imposter syndrome.

Whether you’re stepping into your first internship, first job, or hey, any position along your career path, know that you are not alone. We all doubt ourselves from time to time. It’s all in how you choose to recover from those feelings and move forward.