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What are some tips/tricks for interns to avoid feeling imposter syndrome at their workplace? #Spring24

I am a junior MIS student at UH looking forward to starting my ITPM internship this summer. I am trying to prepare myself mentally for this role and want to make the most out of it without getting caught up in feeling like an imposter or not fit for the role.

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Jerome’s Answer

I'll let you in on a secret, we are all just doing the best we can with what we have.

I have been a VP of Sales twice so far in my life and both times I felt like I kinda just made it up as I went along.

You were given the job for a reason. Believe in yourself and if there is something you don't know, find a resources, but DO NOT doubt yourself.

You've got this!
Thank you comment icon Hey Jerome! I loved reading your answer, and I absolutely agree that at times, you just need to put that doubt aside and believe in yourself. Thank you so much for your advice! Hareem
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Ariana’s Answer

First, congratulations on your internship! You've made it past one of many hurdles you'll face. No matter the opportunity, I'd say approach it with an open mind. You aren't a seasoned veteran in the field and your employer knows that. Be inquisitive, ask those questions that are pondering in the back of your mind. I'd bet that someone else has the same question. Be yourself - try and get a true understanding of not only your specific responsibilities, but the larger impact your smaller project may have. The only way you'll know if you're a good fit is if you truly exercise the opportunity and and look at things beyond surface level. Good luck and enjoy!
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Abhishek’s Answer

Imposter syndrome is a common feeling among interns and professionals alike, but there are several strategies you can employ to help overcome it and make the most out of your internship. Here are some creative expert tips:

1. Embrace a growth mindset: Understand that your internship is an opportunity for learning and growth. Embrace the fact that you may not know everything, and that's okay. View challenges as opportunities to develop new skills and expand your knowledge.

2. Set realistic expectations: Recognize that as an intern, you are not expected to know everything or be an expert. Understand that you are there to learn and contribute in your own unique way. Set realistic goals for yourself and focus on making progress rather than striving for perfection.

3. Seek support and guidance: Don't hesitate to ask for help or guidance when needed. Reach out to your supervisor, mentor, or colleagues for support and clarification. Remember that everyone has been in your shoes at some point, and people are usually willing to help.

4. Celebrate your achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Keep a record of your achievements and positive feedback you receive. This will help boost your confidence and remind you of your capabilities.

5. Embrace your unique perspective: As a junior MIS student, you bring a fresh perspective and knowledge to the table. Don't underestimate the value of your unique skills and experiences. Embrace your strengths and contribute your ideas and insights to projects and discussions.

6. Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Remember that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Instead of being overly critical, focus on learning from your mistakes and using them as opportunities for growth.

7. Network and connect with others: Engage with your colleagues and build relationships with other interns or professionals in your field. Attend networking events, join professional organizations, and seek out mentorship opportunities. Connecting with others who have similar experiences can help you realize that you are not alone in your feelings.

Remember, feeling like an imposter is common, but it doesn't define your abilities or potential. Embrace the learning experience, be open to feedback, and believe in yourself. You have been chosen for this internship for a reason, and you have the potential to make a valuable contribution.
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Davielle’s Answer

Remember, you are an educated person who has the right skills, or else they would not have brought you onboard. I don't like the fake it till you make it mantra. That is dishonest and dangerous. Rather, you need to ask questions (yes, everyone likes you to ask questions), and align yourself with a few people who are in supervisory role who can mentor you. Don't necessarily hang out with the younger people. Spend time, especially outside of work with people in leadership roles who can teach you the proper behavior and skills to grow your career. Good luck!
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Megan’s Answer

As silly as it sounds- you gotta fake it till you make it!

I did two internships where I felt very nervous going in.

In my first internship, I was doing college recruiting where I would go with the HR team to college career fairs and talk to students about working for this big company that I hardly knew. On my FIRST day, I was at a career fair for a Big10 school. It got so busy that they asked if I could jump in and talk to students. I felt like I knew nothing and was unprepared. But I was brave and jumped in. One of the students I talked to asked me how long I had been with the company because I spoke so passionately. I said, "Oh less than a year!" I was not going to tell him it was my first day and I did not let it show.

I had another internship with Disney World and during training, they gave us a giant binder and said by the end of the 6 months we would know everything inside the binder. I thought there was NO WAY! I could hardly remember how to get around the park. However, I was surprised by how quickly I learned and became confident in the material and knowledge taught.

You have to throw yourself into the deep end and swim. Be brave! Even if you think "I can't do this", you have to try.

Remember that they hired you for a reason and you are capable! You got this!
Thank you comment icon Hey Megan! Thank you so much for your kind and uplifting words! I couldn't agree more about jumping into the deep end and swimming; its a mindset I've always applied for my academics and now its time to use it in the real-world too. Your personal experiences are such great examples of how to fake it till you make it and of perseverance, and I am very grateful you took the time out to tell me about them and for your kind words! Hareem
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Juan’s Answer

Hey! Great on that achievement of getting an internship. Some advice:
1. Your employer knows that you are in a learning process, so no worries about that.
2. You need to be brave, just believe in yourself.
3. We all happen to have fear to the unknown, but what we can certainly do is to be curious and keep researching. If you don't know, be calm and start researching in the company's intranet, some colleagues, search engines and AI (Chat GPT, Copilot, etc.)

No worries, if you have the resources to look up, you will nail it.

Juan recommends the following next steps:

Research about the company and internship position before. Go to Glassdoor and check reviews.
Contact former interns via LinkedIn. This will expand your network and gain you insights.
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Mary Ann’s Answer

Hello Hareem. Congrats on getting selected for an internship! I've worked with a lot of interns in the tech industry and I'm going to tell you some things that are important for you to know.
1. We, the employer, know you are learning and will need guidance and answers to questions.
2. You, as the intern, know more than you think you know.
3. Your co-workers (regular employees) are learning, too. There are some things they know how to do and some things they're learning for the first time
4. When your team asks you "what do you think?", tell them what you think. It's not like a test where they are looking for a "right answer". They are truly interested in your perspective.

A few years back, I was working with a group of 8 interns. They actually reported to a different manager, but that person was in a different state. I happened to be in the same physical location as the interns and would see them when they were in the office. They would often ask me questions about how to use a particular app or feature of an app, or who to talk to to get certain types of information, or sometimes, they would just say, I don't even know where to start. Depending on what was needed, I would simply give an answer (like click here to access this feature in an app) or I would ask them questions to help them think through how to find the answer for themselves, or suggest we do a little brainstorming to figure out where to start and what actions to take. The brainstorming was always my favorite because all I did was ask questions and write down on a whiteboard the information they were sharing. Then, once all the information about what they might do was on the whiteboard, I asked them to look at the info and decide which things should be done first. This illustrated how much they already knew. They just needed me to help them organize it.

Then, one day, I scheduled a meeting with them because I needed their help with a project. When we got in the meeting room, they were concerned that they couldn't help saying, "I'm only an intern. I don't know anything". To which I responded, "I disagree. On this topic, you know more than me." And I proceeded to explain the problem to be solved and the outcome I was hoping to achieve and then asked their opinion. First a couple of ideas came out and then there was a full on discussion and whiteboarding and prioritizing of ideas. The end result was significant improvements to how we recruited interns and what the onsite intern experience would be like and a whole component on using social media that we had not used previously.

The point that I made to the interns was they grew up with technology in their hand. Whenever they go to do something (and this likely applies to you), they would automatically think about how technology could help them achieve their objective. For those of us who didn't grow up with technology in our hand, we are still learning how technology can automate some things and make things move faster.

As you step into your internship, know that you know more than you think you know. It's ok to ask questions (that advice goes for your whole career not just your internship). It's actually expected that you'll ask questions. And once you're on the ground, take full advantage of the internship. Get to know the other interns, but also participate in the intern events, go to the company meeting and ask questions of the leadership, schedule 1:1 time with people to learn what they do and what their career path was like. You have the perfect opening "I'm an intern and I want to learn more about jobs in this company. Can I meet with you for 15 minutes to learn about what you do and how you got to that position?"

They hired you because they saw something in you that is a fit for their company. Trust that you are going to prove them right! You are a valuable asset to the team.

Goodluck! (not that you need it)
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much Mary Ann! Reading your response really lifted up my spirits and made me feel confident in being at this spot in my career. Your statement "You know more that you think you know" is forever going to stay in my mind. Its absolutely inspiring, motivating, and sometimes we all need a reminder that we all bring something to the table. I really appreciate your valuable advice and support! Hareem
Thank you comment icon You're welcome. Glad to be of help. Mary Ann Higgs
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Violaine’s Answer

Hello Hareem, here's a friendly boost for you:

Celebrate Your Achievements: Don't forget to applaud your own skills and victories.

Be Patient with Yourself: Allow yourself the space and time to learn and develop.

Embrace Feedback: Use it as a tool to enhance and confirm your capabilities.

Keep Learning: Welcome every chance to expand your horizons.

Remember, You're Not Alone: We all face our own unique challenges.

Show Yourself Some Love: Always remember to be gentle with yourself.

Cheer for Every Victory: Each small triumph helps to build your confidence.

Join Hands with Your Peers: Exchange stories and uplift each other.

Combat Negative Thoughts: Transform any negative self-talk into positive affirmations.

Don't Hesitate to Ask for Help: If you need it, reach out to mentors or counselors. They're there to support you.
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Astrid’s Answer

Imposter syndrome is not something you be worried about as an Intern as you were hired with the expectation that you are NOT an expert in the area/ industry. Use the Intern opportunity to learn. Ask questions, volunteer for "stretch" responsibilities and anything that currently makes you uncomfortable. But of course, always make your best effort when assigned to a task.

Access Your Potential is an ecosystem of learning, support and connections for Black and Latino/Hispanic college students, across all fields of study, as they explore their future careers. You will have access to mentorship with PwC professionals, paid consulting externships and free curriculums to help you grow and discover what you want for your career. Find out more on http://accessyourpotential.pwc.com/.
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Kady’s Answer

Oh- I think most all of us are winging it. Fake it 'til you make it is alive and well in corporate America, but we're doing OK! Find a mentor in the company and ASK THE QUESTIONS!! Ask all the questions you can think of, or if you aren't comfortable asking them out loud, write them down and email your mentor. The internet is your friend, so search for answers, too. Good luck!!
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Allan’s Answer

For over a decade and a half, I've held executive positions in multiple companies. Even though my feelings of impostor syndrome have improved, they haven't completely disappeared. The most useful strategy I've discovered to combat these feelings is to master my role better than anyone else. The knowledge I acquire forms a solid foundation of confidence that helps to reduce the intensity of impostor syndrome. Additionally, seeking guidance from an executive coach can be highly beneficial.
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Michael’s Answer

Imposter syndrome is common among interns and professionals alike, but there are strategies you can employ to mitigate its effects and excel in your internship:

1. **Acknowledge Your Achievements**: Take time to reflect on your accomplishments and the skills and experiences that have led you to this internship opportunity. Recognize that you were chosen for the role for a reason, and you have valuable contributions to make.

2. **Set Realistic Expectations**: Understand that it's normal to feel a bit out of your depth when starting a new role, especially as an intern. Set realistic expectations for yourself and recognize that there will be a learning curve as you adapt to your new responsibilities.

3. **Ask Questions and Seek Feedback**: Don't be afraid to ask questions or seek clarification when you encounter something unfamiliar. Seeking feedback from your supervisors and colleagues can help you identify areas for improvement and gain confidence in your abilities.

4. **Focus on Learning and Growth**: Approach your internship with a growth mindset, viewing challenges as opportunities for learning and development rather than indicators of incompetence. Embrace new experiences and seek out opportunities to expand your skills and knowledge.

5. **Build Relationships and Network**: Connect with your colleagues and fellow interns to build a support network within the organization. Building relationships with others who share similar experiences can help alleviate feelings of isolation and imposter syndrome.

6. **Celebrate Your Wins**: Take time to celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Recognizing and celebrating your achievements can boost your confidence and reinforce your sense of belonging in the workplace.

7. **Practice Self-Compassion**: Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion when you're feeling overwhelmed or self-critical. Remember that everyone experiences setbacks and challenges, and it's okay to not have all the answers right away.

8. **Seek Mentorship**: If possible, seek out a mentor within the organization who can provide guidance, support, and perspective as you navigate your internship. A mentor can offer valuable insights and advice based on their own experiences in the field.

9. **Keep a Journal**: Consider keeping a journal to track your progress, reflect on your experiences, and document your accomplishments throughout your internship. Reflecting on your growth over time can help counteract feelings of imposter syndrome.

10. **Remember Your Value**: Remind yourself of your unique skills, experiences, and perspectives that you bring to the table. You are a valuable member of the team, and your contributions are important, regardless of any doubts or insecurities you may have.

By implementing these tips and strategies, you can navigate your internship with confidence, resilience, and a sense of purpose, minimizing the impact of imposter syndrome and maximizing your growth and development opportunities.
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Chelsea’s Answer

Hi Hareem! Imposter syndrome is a very normal feeling that all professionals feel at least once so just know you are not alone. One piece of advice I'd like to give you is that if the opportunity presents itself to you, that means you are ready. It may be easier said that done, but try to believe in your abilities and the work you've put in thus far. As an intern, you won't be an expert, but it's important you act as a sponge to soak up all the knowledge you can.

Additionally, keep in mind companies hire interns for a fresh perspective and value your opinion so learn to find your voice and speak up if you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions. This is a great opportunity for you to learn from working professionals, but also for the company to learn from you!
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Kyle’s Answer

Hareem,

Firstly, let me take a moment to applaud you on securing your internship - it's a significant accomplishment that you should take great pride in. In response to your query, it's completely natural to feel a bit overwhelmed, especially when you're just starting out. In my own journey, having a mentor to lean on was a game-changer in accelerating my learning process. There were moments when I could approach my mentor with questions without fear of judgment, which was incredibly empowering. Remember, the company selected you for this internship for a reason - they believe in your capabilities, so never underestimate your worth. This internship is a golden opportunity for you to connect with new people, acquire new skills, and pave the way for your future career trajectory. I can confidently tell you that whether you're an intern or a seasoned professional, we're all in a constant state of learning. I wish you immense success in your internship and once again, kudos on your achievement!
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