Professional Development Series: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Mar 27 · Scott Elpers

Have you ever looked around and assumed everyone knows what they’re doing except you? It’s called imposter syndrome, and it’s a common issue among young professionals.

As part of a new Professional Development Series, W brought in Caitlin Slemp, video producer and digital marketing content creator for WSU Tech, to discuss her own battle with imposter syndrome and ways to counteract that uncomfortable feeling you experience when you think you’re underqualified.  

Although imposter syndrome is a common concept now, the term was first identified in the 1970s.

For many people, impostor syndrome is part of developing a professional identity. To overcome it, know that you’re not alone, recognize your achievements and don’t fall into the trap of seeking perfection. While it may creep back in from time to time, just remember that this is a normal feeling nearly every young professional identifies with.

“Whether professionally or personally, we have walked through a time where we felt uncertain or ill-equipped to deal with a situation. If we all could identify what it was that helped us through these times, many, if not all, would claim it was those around us that provided the catalyst to overcome our troubles,” said W Member Aiden Hamilton. “And in this way, Caitlin called us all to be honest, be curious, and most importantly, be vulnerable to those who care most.”

One method Slemp suggested to overcome imposter syndrome was to create a “Board of Directors” for yourself. This is a close group of people you can be honest with. They’re in your corner supporting your growth and development but are also open enough to call you out when needed. 

“This piece of advice is one of the biggest and best takeaways I’ve had from the many development sessions I’ve attended over the years,” said W member Jenna Graber. “As I think about my own struggles with imposter syndrome and consider who I want to name to my ‘Board of Directors,’ I look back to Caitlin’s final message, ‘The work is never done.’ She’s right. We are a work in progress and must continue to work to be a better version of ourselves.”

W’s Professional Development Series offers guidance, inspiration and tangible takeaways to help unlock the doors to your potential. This quarterly event series provides young professionals with experience from those who have faced the same career challenges. W will hold its next Professional Development Series on emotional intelligence on June 21. You can register for that event here.