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Cover image for [On-Demand Talk] You're not an Imposter, You're a Life-Long Learner
Pj Metz
Pj Metz

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[On-Demand Talk] You're not an Imposter, You're a Life-Long Learner

About This Talk

My name is Pj Metz, and I'm a former English Teacher. After working with all ages of students K-12, I left education to work in Developer Relations, specifically becoming an Education Evangelist for GitLab in May of 2021. Adjusting to a new career led me to experience some self-doubt in my own abilities. I worried that I didn't have what it takes to work in tech; that my experience was useless in a world beyond lesson plans and poetry.

That's when I learned about imposter syndrome, the belief that you are incapable of performing your job well and that people around you have unearned confidence in your abilities. People are most familiar with imposter syndrome in the workplace. One place you don't often hear about it is in education, and this talk aims to show why your expectations about what you will be doing can help you overcome imposter syndrome. There are days I STILL feel this way, that I'm just waiting for work to realize I shouldn't have this job; the advice in this talk are the very ways I help myself remember my own worth and value.

This talk is a chance to join others who are all worried that they're not good enough, and a chance to leave realizing not only that you're good enough, but that you are more capable than you think.

Takeaways

  1. Imposter syndrome can affect anyone, and often affects those who you'd think would be immune to it.
  2. Students leave the classroom and take learning with them: No matter where you are in your career, you should still be learning new things
  3. Failure's not flattering, but flattery gets you nowhere: Just because you mess up doesn't mean you're an imposter - It's a chance to learn!

Resources

Slides

>> Click here to download slides

🌈 Comment below and ask me questions — I might just answer them during my live speaker discussion!


About PJ Metz

Pj is a former educator who now works as an Education Evangelist at GitLab. After teaching for 11 years, Pj made the transition into tech in May of 2021 after teaching himself to code during the summer and fall of the pandemic. He is a passionate public speaker and has spoken at a Microsoft conference as well as hosted several meetups and other events representing GitLab. You can catch him on Twitch building a website about poetry or building his next pop-star-based Twitter bot.


This on-demand talk is part of CodeLand 2021 — a virtual conference brought to you by CodeNewbie & DEV on September 23 & 24, 2021.

Discussion (85)

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madreloidpx profile image
Aliya Miranda

The real question: Am I good enough to have impostor syndrome 🤔🤣🤣

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th3weatherman profile image
Mike Bonawitt

Great discussion, thank you. I have been stuck with imposter syndrome for a few years now. As a general IT professional, I have been looking to move into more of a development kind of career. I've taken countless courses and bootcamps over the years to prepare myself. Trying to determine if I have enough knowledge to be a developer is hard. It seems like I may never feel ready, as there are always going to be things I still need to learn. How did you know when you were ready to move from teaching to a tech role?

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jrrohrer profile image
Jessie Rohrer

Oh man. I felt like high school PJ when I started coding bootcamp. I felt like I was just...in the wrong place. Being a career changer adds another layer to the Dunning-Kruger effect, especially the more you learn (the more you know, the more you know what you don't know). But then over time, you learn that everyone is always learning, and you figure out how to give yourself the grace to learn and take up space.

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joks84 profile image
Jelena

"Imposters don't fail"...now I'm sure I'm not imposter :D Love this talk, thanks Pj Metz!

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andrewprohde profile image
Andy Rohde (he/him)

That hits so close to home. I always feel the most like an imposter when I'm struggling to implement something or solve a problem.

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joks84 profile image
Jelena

100%! Then you see someone doing the same thing easily, so you start questioning your career and life choices :D

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andrewprohde profile image
Andy Rohde (he/him)

I spent way too long working on building nested dictionaries from an API response in Python the other day. While building out the data structure I completely forgot about lists... I only realized the flaw in it after reaching out to the other developer in my department for advice

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joks84 profile image
Jelena

Means a lot when you have someone to rely on

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andrewprohde profile image
Andy Rohde (he/him)

It has been a blessing. We inherited the codebase which was all in C# (I'm not super familiar with it) and there was absolutely zero documentation. From what I had been told, it was all written by one person who is no longer with the company.

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matt_eves_ profile image
Matt Eves

Love the analogy of comparing your own blooper reel to everyone else's highlight reel - definitely made me think back to the very early point of starting to learn coding - acutely aware I knew absolutely nothing, and didn't even know the depths of things I didn't know! - took a while to realise this isn't a race with others, but a one-person trip, and any any progress is better than none. Really positive, grounding session. Thank you.

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metzinaround profile image
Pj Metz Author

Also, set backs don't mean progress is finished. It's a long term game.

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chikichew profile image
Nicki (she/her)

Such an important reminder! One of my new years resolutions was learning how to fail (and being fine with it) and I'm still working on it 🤣 But to be honest, feeling ok to just try something and see it as a learning if it goes wrong seems so liberating.

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xthekrakenx profile image
MyKrakenTech

Insightful talk - thank you for the encouraging words/perspectives on overcoming the dreaded imposter syndrome! Definitely digging the brag document/record keeping - I imagine it will also help me in my job search future state! Thanks so much!

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glennchon profile image
Glenn

I've felt like an imposter so much because of coding interviews. I've been ghosted too many times to count. So many times that I gave up and just decided try and make my own SaaS personalized job aggregator website.

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shelleymcq profile image
Shelley M

Comparing their 'highlight reel' to my 'blooper reel'...perfect analogy. Thank you so much for this perspective! I'm also transitioning from teaching (high school science) to coding, and can't count how many of those conversations I've had with kids..."You wouldn't be here if you already knew everything. You're exactly where you're supposed to be." Have to remember to say it to myself more often. Thanks!

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ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Thank you all for your comments! @metzinaround is gonna love reading your feedback. As an educator, do y'all know what Pj also loves?

Questions! Please feel free to drop any and all questions you have for Pj right here in the discussion.

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tracycss profile image
Jane Tracy 👩‍💻

Amazing talk.
I guess I forget that the learning journey never ends, plus reducing harsh self criticism helped this year. Errors !== bad developer.

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itsasine profile image
Kayla

Calculus doesn't have to be scary ;)

I loved the point that highly qualified people work with highly qualified people, so by working with them you're a highly qualified person.

We know enough to know we don't know things, but everyone doesn't know things so it's okay.

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stewartstack profile image
John Stewart

Question to anyone....
How do you decided what to do in software if you cannot decide what to do in tech?
Example i am doing full stack course but i don't know if am enjoying it enough. i have interests in Data science, game development and all sorts. I just cannot seem to narrow it down to one field. Any ideas?

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metzinaround profile image
Pj Metz Author

Try it all!! It's a lot out there, but try little pieces of them where you can. Maybe you take a free course on Data Science. If you like it, take another. If not, try something new.

Full stack will give you a great set of skills to build upon in other areas.

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porton22 profile image
Peter Orton • Edited

(Question for PJ) Online resources recently lead me to believe that interviews in the tech industry are rapidly increasing in difficulty, despite the industry crying out for new Dev's. Do you think this contributes to imposter syndrome, and if so how would you combat this?

Basically, the interview scene is becoming increasingly intimidating, and I think this creates anxiety and doubt.

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metzinaround profile image
Pj Metz Author

From my experience, even experienced developers hate interviewing. The interview process can often feel very different from the actual work you'll do. I'd agree that it can lead to a belief you don't belong.

The best way to combat that is with the knowledge that interviews are often not directly related to what you'll do at the job. In fact, they're two different skill sets.

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peeyou profile image
pee-you

[Question] PJ, any differences in how we deal with imposter syndrome and expressing a learner-posture, between one-ups, peers, or directs?

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quitepeculiar profile image
Doreen Joy Barber (she/her)

This was such a great talk! As someone changing careers into tech, I think it's a super worthwhile conversation having in many industries! Thank you so much!

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terabytetiger profile image
Tyler V. (he/him)

(From the live question segment)

Saron: "I love your background"
PJ: "Thanks, it's my unavoidable personality"

Absolutely stealing this line 😂

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mahyellaw profile image
MJ Torres

this has to be my top favorite discussion so far, your humor got me so good especially with that scenario in the beginning lmao. thank you so much for talking about such topic! it really helps a lot and i relate to your examples too much that i kept yelling "that's so true!" to myself many times. :P "failure is a part of learning" is the line that got my head up, hearing that from someone else impacts me differently. i'll definitely keep in mind that being open about one's own imposter syndrome is healthy and actually helpful. cheers! :D

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porton22 profile image
Peter Orton

Wow, this one hit a nerve. This talk genuinely helped me, thank you.

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middleway13 profile image
Middleway13

You definitely made us smile, thanks for delivering such a colorful and on-point presentation.

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darylnauman profile image
Daryl Nauman

Thanks for this talk! As someone who used to work in higher education, I recently completed a full-stack boot camp and I am now am looking for new opportunities. When looking at opportunities I feel imposter syndrome a bit, but after your talk I'll remind myself I do know things and am still learning :-)

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luiscastillokc profile image
Luis Castillo

PJ, Fear to talk and feel confident of my code is my weakness. what is the best advice to overcome these fear?

Thank You ;)

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jhermann profile image
Jürgen Hermann

Face your fear, ask for a code review (inspection).

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_review

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noviicee profile image
Novice

Hellooo!!!!

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fizzybuzzybeezy profile image
fizzybuzzybeezy

Great topic and way-to-go on the skit! Ugh, I feel this even after several years on the same team. "Confusion is the sweat of learning." I love that quote! I'm going to use it from now on! Thanks for the talk and encouragement PJ!

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fizzybuzzybeezy profile image
fizzybuzzybeezy

Wow! Don't compare someone else's highlight reel to ones own blooper reel. Gosh, that's just great!

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muditabaid profile image
Mudita Baid • Edited

I think almost everyone suffers from this imposter syndrome atleast once in their lifetime.
Thanks for bringing this into discussion.

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_arnoldho profile image
Arnold Ho

Love the editing hahahahah!

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chisomochiweza profile image
Chisomo Chiweza

Oh wow, the beginning of the talk is both empowering and hilarious!

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noviicee profile image
Novice

Have to say this!! The starting really got me haha. Looking forward to the rest of the talk :D

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peeyou profile image
pee-you

Annnnd it doesn't go away

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noviicee profile image
Novice

Anything about learning excites me :relief: