Embracing imposter syndrome: Lessons from the Brooklyn College Women in Tech career panel
- Posted on July 7, 2022
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
"Imposter syndrome is your fuel. Use the fuel to light your fire." - Six Khatiwada
Empowering, isn't it? On May 4, the Women's Employee Network and Avanade Advocators for Community, Education, and Thought Leadership (ACET) co-hosted the Women in Technology Career Panel for Brooklyn College students and other CUNY schools at the Avanade NYC office. The panel was led by Six Khatiwada, Senior Director of Data and AI, and featured panelists Laj Mehta (Senior Consultant, Product Management), Aviva Shooman (Analyst, Data Engineering), Lauren Kucik (Senior Analyst, Advanced Analytics) and Sri Bala Vojjala (Manager, Data Engineering), who shared powerful insights to a group of bright-eyed college students and a virtual audience of more than 30 Avanade and Brooklyn College attendees, answering questions submitted by the students themselves. Read on to hear their advice:
Imposter Syndrome: Flip the Script
The Brooklyn College students, ranging from undergraduate freshmen to graduate students in STEM, shared their concerns about breaking into the tech industry, navigating appropriate interviewing and networking etiquette and mapping out their future in a dauntingly broad industry. Questions such as “How do I apply the theory I am learning in school to a tech career?” and “How do I know if I am ready for the real world?” were common throughout the session. They were largely expressing concerns that reflected “imposter syndrome,” the encompassing feeling of not deserving your earned successes and feeling like a failure despite developing a thorough record of achievements.
Many of us have felt imposter syndrome at some point in our careers, whether it has been in the form of doubting how our education and experiences qualified us for the job, joining a male-dominant industry, questioning whether we were ready for that promotion or not feeling comfortable voicing our opinions when sitting in a room of senior people. Each panelist shared both their experiences with imposter syndrome and the ways they’ve identified to overcome it.
“Lean into your discomfort instead of viewing it as a barrier.” This overarching message was repeatedly reinforced throughout the discussion. Imposter syndrome permeates students and professionals alike, especially when working through something challenging in a new area. Viewing imposter syndrome as a process that leads to more competency and confidence is a mindset shift that most women need to embrace. The panelists emphasized the ideas of staying open-minded to grab new opportunities and embracing a growth mindset and continuous upskilling. While you don’t have to have everything figured out when you begin your career, it is important to broaden your horizons as you go along. Oftentimes, you know more than you think you know. Part of the journey involves discovering your capabilities, learning how to tell your story and leveraging the resources that are available at your fingertips.
Choosing a range of experiences is a winning approach
The panel also demonstrated that there is no single path to approach your career. They spoke about their journeys into tech at Avanade, highlighting how students can enter the tech industry from all walks of life. Whether it be a traditional route where an internship led to a full-time job offer, or a less traditional route where a start in medicine transitioned into a blossoming career as a senior consultant in Business and Tech Integration. While an atypical career path can further perpetuate imposter syndrome, it can also become your strength. Embracing, instead of fearing, the very thing that makes you different is exactly what enables you to bring a unique perspective to the table. Avanade recognizes this, and it’s apparent in the community that we’ve built. Our colleagues come from a myriad of backgrounds – from farmers to doctors, from veterans to writers. Inclusivity and diversity are not just a part of Avanade’s philosophy – they are Avanade’s strength. While it is common to attend such events and leave feeling overwhelmed, this event and the panelists empowered everyone involved to tell their story, to be intentional in their growth, and to use any concerns or doubts to fuel their undying flame.
Avanade ACET (Advocators for Community, Education, and Thought Leadership) strives to build a group of empowered individuals across talent communities, enabling members at all levels to be leaders and make targeted impacts across client work, employee experience, and business development at Avanade. Women's Employee Network is an employee-run organization within Avanade that strives to accelerate the progress of women and promote workplace inclusion. Their mission is to create an inclusive, diverse, and open culture that attracts, develops, and retains women at Avanade by encouraging boldness and acting as one. They want to ensure the fabric of the organization really “walks the walk” when it comes to gender parity and positive collaboration between all Avanade employees.
Women's Employee Network is an employee-run organization within Avanade that strives to accelerate the progress of women and promote workplace inclusion. Their mission is to create an inclusive, diverse, and open culture that attracts, develops, and retains women at Avanade by encouraging boldness and acting as one. They want to ensure the fabric of the organization really “walks the walk” when it comes to gender parity and positive collaboration between all Avanade employees.