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Getting past the Imposter Syndrome

Gabriel Lee
July 3rd, 2020 · 2 min read

Many people face this issue, especially more so when those people come from coding bootcamps, are self-taught and/or come from non-CS degrees trying to make a career switch. imposter syndrome, was an alien term to me. I only got to know about this when I joined a bootcamp before the COVID-19 situation. Previously to me, if I couldn’t code I would honestly say that I don’t know how to code that. But as society has taught me, fake it till you drop it!

By coding, it isn’t just editing basic HTML / CSS properties. Its combining front-end (HTML/CSS/Javascript) to an extend that you understand what the code entails, know how to debug a problem and resolve it. Honestly, I’m still nowhere near the level of an expert coder. Where one just types without much thinking to the problem and voila! problem solved, no that’s just what TV does to mislead people. In truth, I’ve never seen any Software Engineer being able to logically type out code immediately without some sort of reference to documentations or search the almighty Google.

Most developers that I know of, just say “Google it”. Google the heck out of the problem, being able to Google out answers is a skill itself! So long as you know your fundamentals well enough, you can resolve 80% of the problems just by Googling!

comic seasnake
Credit: franklyspeakingnews.com

One thing I found that helped me learn better was to watch people code on youtube/twitch. By understanding their thinking processes, and how they write their code. You generally pick up the best practices and styles naturally.

Confidence

The imposter syndrome has to do with CONFIDENCE. It’s because you are unsure, you’re in doubt and you lack the resolve to be constantly failing. Its perfectly natural. Programming is about constantly failing and trying out different methods, there will be the rare occasion where you get it in one try. Consistent failures means you’re learning, and being a Software Engineer means that you must be comfortable with lifelong learning.

coding fail
Credit: monkeyuser.com

Not ready - Are you sure?

Knowing your weakness is also a step in becoming better. What do you feel you lack in securing a SWE job? Have you done all that you can to overcome the weakness? During the start of the year, when I wanted to join a coding bootcamp. I met Xavier, he is the most dedicated person trying to be a Software Engineer. He quit his job in early 2019 and began self-learning how to code, he dove straight into leetcode,hackerrank,codewars. Spent 8 hours each day everyday, reading Cracking the Coding Interview, going through tutorials on Khan Academy, CodeAcademy, Coursera, edX. He got really good, so much to the point that he didn’t realise that he got so much better than I was yet still continued spending 8 hours each day learning.

To me, he is in the realm of expert coders that I know of. And I only know of a handful of them most of which are working as Lead/Senior Software Developers in Tech Companies. Last week over coffee while catching up with them, I brought up this topic about Xavier. And their answer was, he is already too comfortable and reluctant perhaps try to move out of the comfort zone. All of them agree that he is ready to apply for a Job. Algorithm expert - check, Knowledge in Programming (Python/JS) - check. In all sense, what he has been practicing for the past 18 months is proof that not only does he have the grit, the ability to learn, and the commitment to do better! He is a true blue nocsdegree candidate. Though he has a Degree in Marketing from SMU.

So Xavier my friend, if you’re reading this one day. You’ll do really well, much better than me actually. And I wish you all the best!

cheers!

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