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You are not an imposter: tips to reframe your thinking

March 14, 2022

By Marissa Raposo

At the start of my co-op journey, I often had moments of self-doubt where I felt I didn’t know enough or wasn’t qualified enough. Many of the positions I applied for were searching for students starting their careers, but these thoughts would still find their way into my brain.

I worked as a Content Coordinator during my first co-op term and most recently as a Marketing Associate for my second term. Although my previous experience made me feel more confident going into my second position, thoughts that my marketing knowledge would not be up to par and that I was not actually qualified, found their way back into my train of thought.

Negative thinking - I know. But, talking with friends, family, and through the wonders of the internet, I came to realize many people feel the same way, an estimated 70% of the population to be more precise.

Whether you are a co-op student, a fresh graduate, or have a developed career, imposter syndrome can still find moments to lurk in the corner.

“Impostor syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be.”

Here are three rational perspectives that helped me whenever imposter syndrome wanted to make its grand appearance.

1. Every experience is an opportunity for growth and learning.

We are all here to learn, especially as co-op students. These opportunities are a chance to grow and explore. Your co-workers don’t expect you to know everything there is to know about the intricacies of a position. The more you practice a skill the better you get. So, make the effort to embrace the unknown, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and reframe your worried thoughts into thoughts of exciting possibilities.

2. Googling how to do things is part of the job. It doesn’t make you less competent.

Google is one of the main ways we learn how to do new things. A quick google search can help you find just what you need to get the job done. At the start of my co-op term, imposter syndrome had me feeling like a fraud. I felt that googling how to do things related to my position, made me less competent than my co-workers. But in reality, knowing how to efficiently find the information you need is one of the best skills you can have. No matter what level you are at in your career, google is your best friend.

3. Nobody knows everything.

Do you remember being a young kid and looking at your teenage cousin thinking, “wow they are so old, they must know so much?” Then once you were a teenager you’d look at 20-somethings in University and think, “wow they are so mature, they must have it all figured out.” Then you reached your 20s and saw those in their 30’s thinking - well you get the point. We tend to idealize where other people are at, especially in their careers. Yes, those in higher positions have a lot more knowledge and experience, but they sure don’t know everything there is to possibly know about their career. They also continue to learn new things daily. Remembering this can help ease your thoughts of feeling less competent compared to your colleagues.

Reframing our thinking with more rational perspectives can help us to take a step back and end the spiral of imposter-like thoughts. Easier said than done. Trust me, I know. It takes practice and conscious effort, but in time you’ll be able to keep your old imposter syndrome pal in check and focus on the exciting opportunities ahead!