You know that feeling when you walk into a room and immediately feel as though you are the least educated person in the room? If your answer to that was yes, then you have felt imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is defined by the National Institute of Health as a behavioral health phenomenon described as self doubt in intellect, skills, or accomplishments among high-achieving individuals and this summer, that is exactly how I felt.
I interned at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond this summer as an organizational change management intern. In my prior internship, I don’t think I was necessarily challenged in my workload or in the particular subject matter but this past summer, that changed. I noticed that the subject matter I was working with was not something easily researchable, it required hands-on experience working with subject matter experts in my field. I luckily was granted so many people to help me fully grasp concepts but the feeling that I was not smart enough to be in the position I was in remained.
So how did I overcome it? Honestly, I know that imposter syndrome will never not be something I feel at times but something that eases my emotions is remembering that I am here for a reason. I would not be put in the position I was in if my hiring manager did not believe I deserved or was not qualified to be there. You will forever be your harshest critic and sometimes it takes looking outward to see that others have confidence in your abilities to be able to overcome imposter syndrome.
At the end of the day, it is crucial that you consistently remind yourself that you are prepared and ready to have a seat at the table with those executives. You have worked so hard to be in that position you may feel unprepared for. It is okay to feel challenged but it should never result in self doubt. Remember your worth and you will be able to overcome imposter syndrome just as I did.