The Imposter Syndrome

Oh don’t even worry about it, finding a job will be SO easy — anyone would be lucky to have you.

You have some of the cleanest code at this company.

You’re one of the fastest developers here who hardly ever creates any bugs!

When I decided to leave my last job, with statements like that casually being uttered to me, I had zero worries about my future. With nearly three years of valuable experience at my last company, growing into one of their best front-end engineers, I was certain that upon my return from the East, I would easily find a new job out-of-state.

“I don’t want to come back from the jungle, but when I inevitably do, I’m totally going to get a new job SO quickly! No worries, y’all!” 

But the unfortunate fact is — this isn’t the cake walk that I expected it to be. 😳

First off, I’ve got a lot going against me. When potential employers see that I left my last company in October, they automatically think something went horribly wrong. I can’t blame them — it’s not common that someone decides to quit (with nearly a month’s notice, no less) without having another job lined up.

Then, there’s my decision to visit my family in Asia and Australia and to see eleven different countries while I was there. I’m happy that a select few are genuinely intrigued and applaud me for my decision, but a lot of the time, I feel a general lack of understanding, like I’m some kind of crazy person, or even worse yet, an implication that I was a “bad” American and shouldn’t have taken so much time off… excuse me, that’s why I took that opportunity in-between jobs! I won’t apologize for wanting to go out and live my life to the fullest.

To that Google recruiter who called me and immediately got rude after I told her I took 3 months off to travel the world… No thanks.

Yet perhaps one of the hardest things about this situation is that I’m applying exclusively to out-of-state positions.

I don’t know anyone in tech in Colorado or California, and before I get to personally meet anyone, I have to sell myself over the phone at least twice, usually more. And I’ve never, ever been good at selling myself. I absolutely despise bragging, and I prefer to let my work speak for itself. Although I think people consider me a nice and friendly person once they get to know me, I’ve always been quite introverted, which I personally embrace, but that definitely doesn’t seem like an asset when you’re trying to get a company to understand just how much you’re worth and why they should hire you.

It doesn’t matter if I’m an extremely fast learner, a meticulous coder, a very productive developer, and a great, creative individual to work with, if I don’t come off as such on a simple phone call.

“Well… at least I didn’t totally blow it this time… I think.”

Even though I’ve proven my worth many times in the past, with every anxious freeze-up in a technical interview or final “we think you’re a great fit culturally, but not quite there technically” or the opposite “we believe you’ve got the technical chops, but aren’t a good cultural fit,” it’s hard not to feel demoralized and start to think that I’m a failure of a software engineer, especially when I’m in a field with such a high demand for good talent. I know I have what it takes, but when I’m feeling judged in an interview situation, most of that knowledge in my brain seems to melt away, until right afterwards, and then I’m back to being myself again.

In other words, I’m certain that I suffer from some kind of “imposter syndrome,” which is “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.” Apparently it can happen to anyone, but it’s quite common among software developers.

Hey, it’s me! I started using my first computer (which ran good ‘ol Windows 3.0) at age 6, and it soon became my favorite hobby. Old habits die hard.

The fact is though, I know that I’m a valuable developer, and there’s literally no shortage of people interested in hiring me in DFW, as I’ve lived here my whole life and have a network here. If I had a dollar for each person that called or emailed me for a job in DFW in the last few months… I almost wouldn’t even have to work! 😛

BUT — I want to live somewhere new.

Somewhere I can go outside, enjoy nature, breathe normally, and embrace my true self. Is that so wrong?

I don’t want to have to be chained to DFW just because I was born here. I GET IT, software developers like me are paid really well for the cost of living, there’s a lot of great food, the people are generally nice, everything’s bigger in Texas, yadda-yadda. That’s all fine and dandy, and I’m thankful for it, but I want a change of pace!

However, to be fair, through this process, I have found some gaps in my knowledge, and realized that I previously wasn’t keeping up on current trends as much as I should have. But I’ve been working my ass off for the last two months reading tech blogs and books, doing coding challenges and side projects, and interviewing more than I’ve ever felt comfortable with, and it’s been grueling.

Almost there… I think this is gonna be the one! Assdfjsdlkgsdg;lsdg;’;l … nope, start over. Here we go again!

I’d honestly much rather have a job than have to be in this situation, living at home in a room with broken A/C, constantly ruminating that I’m a failure, feeling like I have to always find things to do to stay sharp while not getting paid a lick of salt.

Negatives aside though, let it be known that taking that trip was still completely worth it for me. I learned a lot about life, the world, the collective human experience, and so much more that being tied down to a job wouldn’t have taught me. The experiences that I had will stay with me for a lifetime.

If something doesn’t pan out, at least I’ve got my experiences! And my cat, so there’s that. 🙂

If any potential employer is reading this right now, I promise you that I’m an excellent software developer, and that if you hire me, you won’t regret it. Although I’ll try, I may not deliver a knock-out interview, but I can more than make up for that in my worth — just ask nearly anyone that I’ve worked with before. I mean it.

I really, truly  hope I can find the right fit for me soon. I’m more than ready to put my skills to good use again and be productive!

Keeping my head held high, and my thoughts positive,
– Brad

3 Comment

  1. Kim Stovall says: Reply

    Hi, Brad. This is Kim. Loved your article. I think it’s great that you followed your heart and got to experience so much on your trip. I was very impressed with your work ethic, attitude and knowledge at MedAssets. I won’t give a hiring recommendation to just anyone, but i would definitively do it for you. Good luck on this journey and if there is anything I can do to help, just let me know.

    1. Brad says: Reply

      Hey Kim, thank you so much!! I really had an incredible journey. It’s so nice to hear from you! Thank you for your kind words and offer to recommend me, I truly appreciate it. I definitely enjoyed working with you at MedAssets too 🙂

      I’ll certainly let you know if I need a recommendation! Thanks again dear <3

  2. Thank you very much for your blog.

    I enjoyed reading this article.

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