How Women in Partnerships Combat Imposter Syndrome

Cass Polzin
Cass Polzin9 Sep, 2021

Have you ever gotten a raise or new job and felt conflicting emotions? On one hand, you were super excited and proud of yourself. On the other hand, you were terrified people would find out “who you really are”. That feeling is called imposter syndrome, and research shows that nearly three out of four individuals feel this way.

It can be scary and alienating, but it’s actually incredibly common. So common that many of the women we’ve interviewed for our Women in Partnerships series have mentioned experiencing feelings of imposter syndrome at some point in their career. Below, we’ve compiled some of the common advice shared across interviews that you can implement when you’re feeling down about your abilities.

No one really knows what they’re doing.

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “Fake it till you make it,” in the past. When you enter a new role, it can be nerve-racking to feel like you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. You may feel like everyone else around you knows so much more.

In reality, no one knows everything. While you may have opportunities to learn from more seasoned professionals, they still have knowledge gaps opportunities to learn themselves. In one of our interviews, Adrienne Coburn pointed out that the more interactions she had with people in C-Suite and leadership, the more she realized that everyone figures things out as they go.

Stay curious.

No matter where you’re at in your career, you’ll always have more to learn. Appreciate the opportunities you have to learn from those around you, whether that’s learning hard skills or picking up on soft skills.

Ashley Hildreth transitioned to a career in technology after spending many years as an entrepreneur running a workspace and studio for artists in NYC. She worked to build her confidence during the transition by becoming a “sponge” and soaking up as much knowledge as she could from those around her.

Bridget Graf also highlighted curiousity as a path toward building confidence. She highlighted that asking questions, being curious, trying to understand pain points, and understand the customers better were some of the best ways for her to overcome her imposter syndrome.

Appreciate that you’re where you are for a reason.

Sometimes it can feel like you landed where you are by accident. That at any moment your supervisors will “figure you out” and decide to let you go. It’s so valuable to let go of that mindset and internalize the belief that you’re in your position today because you deserve to be.

People have trusted you with this responsibility for a reason — you wouldn’t be where you are if you didn’t deserve to be. Cat Perez, who manages tech partners for Amplitude, shared that she learned this from a male manager. Despite feeling like she doesn’t always belong at the table, she’s there for a reason.

Build a personal brag sheet.

It can be hard to remember all of your accomplishments when asked to produce them. Similarly, it can be difficult to remember all of the compliments you’ve received when you’re feeling down. Build a personal brag sheet where you can store your personal and professional wins, along with positive feedback you receive.

When you’re struggling with confidence, asking for a raise, or applying for a new role, revisit your brag sheet to boost yourself up. Gloria Castillo shared that she proactively reviews her record, considering all that she’s achieved, which can help to clear up those feelings of self-doubt when they do surface.

Be inspired by other women who have been there before.

You’re not alone in feeling inadequate. Many people feel like they don’t belong, including executives at large organizations. Building your self-confidence is a long-term journey of growth. Give yourself grace and be patient as you work to grow your confidence.

For more inspiration from talented women in the industry, be sure to check out our full Women in Partnerships interview series. You can also apply to join Partnership Leaders to connect with and get tactical advice from hundreds of professionals in the industry.

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