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  • Writer's pictureHanna Leonard

Imposter Syndrome and the Internship Experience

Everyone doubts themselves, but working as an intern can come with an extra dose of self-doubt—the feeling that you can never know enough, do enough, or accomplish enough. The truth is that most interns are juggling full-time studies, one or many jobs, and side projects. I can’t speak for all interns, but I know that no matter how many projects we take on, many of us will experience imposter syndrome.


Definitions

Imposter syndrome (noun): doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud.

Tips and Tricks

I’ve worked in various internship and student positions over the past few years, and I still have to shush the nagging voice that tells me I’m underqualified. The truth is, no matter how many diplomas, degrees, certificates, and jobs I check off my list, I will probably never completely get rid of that voice. I’ve accepted that although it’s here to stay, there are certain things I can do to tone it down a notch. Below are some tips and tricks I’ve learned to combat imposter syndrome.


Ask Questions

You’re an intern—it’s okay not to have all the answers. You’re there to learn. For me, asking questions increases my confidence in the work that I’m producing. It’s better to get clarification and make changes than to cross your fingers and hand in work you’re unsure about. Believe it or not, your employer wants you to ask questions! You’re not expected to know everything right away; you’re expected to ask, learn, and improve. Before you know it, you’ll have fewer questions and more confidence.


Remind Yourself of Your Qualifications

You got the job for a reason. Although you may not have twenty years of experience, your employer would not have hired you if they didn’t believe you could do the job. Sometimes, when I lack confidence, I pull out my resume and remind myself of my qualifications. Internship and academic experiences are valuable, and the skills learned in school and internship positions are transferable to the workplace.



Don’t Underestimate Yourself—Say Yes!

Interns provide valuable insights. Oftentimes, you will be the youngest person on the team and will have opinions and perspectives that are unique from your coworkers. Also, growth comes from trying new things and saying “yes.” I’ve never regretted taking on a challenging project. It may be daunting at first, but you’ll never gain confidence in your skills if you stay in your comfort zone. Before Scriptorium, I was never much of a blog person; now, the idea of writing a blog isn’t nearly as daunting as it was five months ago.





There’s no foolproof method to overcome imposter syndrome. However, there are some things you can do to combat the voices of self-doubt. Although imposter syndrome isn’t unique to the internship experience, it can be more prevalent. Remember, your skills and experience will never leave you, so lean on them!

 

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