by Seffana Mohamed-Ajaz

Imposter Syndrome

What is it?

It’s an uncomfortable experience and includes feeling as though you don’t belong with your peers in your workplace; or you’re undeserving of any achievements and accomplishments.

My Experience

A little bit about me: I am a recent graduate from Warwick with a degree in Systems Engineering. Joining The Information Lab as a trainee Analytical Consultant is my first real job and I have had no experience in the real life of work beforehand. Well, I have had a few days worth of work experience, but we all know that that just means you were a fly on the wall.

I experienced my first wave of imposter syndrome almost immediately after starting at the Data School. I already knew before starting that I was venturing into something new, but I had not anticipated how fast paced everything was going to be.

Carl (Head Coach at the Data School) was teaching DS12 a session on Alteryx Essentials and had assigned us a task. I completely froze, forgetting everything that Carl had taught us just moments ago and started panicking. I looked around to see if anyone else was stuck as well, but everyone seemed fine, clicking away doing the task. I felt so alone.

I had a heavy set of doubt sink in and started questioning how I even got to the Data School in the first place. I thought I only got here by chance and that it was a complete fluke, accident even. I doubted that I had any talent to get in since I only had two vizzes (my application and interview viz) on my Tableau Public at the time. The people in my cohort are all so great and so smart. One of them has a PhD in Neuroscience, another had come into the Data School with over 25 vizzes on his Tableau Public profile, another with experience in a consultancy firm beforehand, and so on and so forth. I understood why they were in DS12. But, why me?

I couldn’t help but think that I had absolutely nothing to bring into this place and that I did not deserve to be with everyone else here. A lot of doubtful thoughts were floating about whilst I was completely clueless with the task at hand.

Data School Support System

Luckily, at the Data School there is an excellent support system! We’re told from the get-go that if ever we’re in need of guidance, support, or even a just a simple chat, anyone and everyone at the Data School (and by extension, The Information Lab) are more than happy to listen and support you.

I had reached out to one of the Data School coaches and was completely honest about my lack of confidence and my feeling as though I am out of place. Opening up and having the conversation really helped a lot!

The support I received helped put me at ease and reassured me that I did earn my place rather than get here by luck. Most of the time it is so easy to compare yourselves to others and turn a blind eye to your own strengths, especially as everyone at the Data School has been hired for their skill and specific niches that make everyone different. But you should not forget how you got here! You worked hard, too!

How do you combat Imposter Syndrome?

Firstly, I am no expert in the matter! From my experience I can definitely say that simply talking to someone definitely helps a lot! It unloads the heavy burden and somewhat forces you to respond to it rather than let it consume you. At the very least, talking about it makes you realise that you’re far from alone and that plenty of other people, better yet, everybody, goes through the same experience in their own way.

I used to think that telling someone about it would be a sign of weakness or that I’d be “exposing” myself. However, I now believe it is actually a brave thing to do and a good sign that you’re trying to work through it. ]

To all current and future Data Schoolers, know that you’re not alone. If you do catch yourself going through a bit of imposter syndrome, then rest assured because you have an awesome group of people besides you who are a great pillar of support.

I am not going to lie, there are still times that I go through phases of ill-confidence in myself but that’s just a part of life. I have recently found openly talking about my personal experience with peers and other Data Schoolers from different cohorts have really helped make the experience less frustrating. The more I’ve talked about it with others, the more I realised how common it is and it was reassuring to know that I wasn’t alone. Opening the conversation helps others know that they’re not alone, too!

That is why I’m so grateful that the Data School has one of the best support systems around to help everyone through the process and ensures that you do great.

Above all, you do deserve your place!

Louise from DS11 has also posted a reflective blog on Imposter Syndrome! (link)

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Seffana Mohamed-Ajaz

Fri 01 Mar 2019

Thu 28 Feb 2019

Wed 27 Feb 2019