On Impostor Syndrome

(A version of this was originally posted on LinkedIn here)

Created with DALL-E 2. “A a turkey looking at a peacock, colorful line drawing”. Close enough, DALL-E, close enough.

Today marks my six-year anniversary at Indeed. I’m not usually one to post on social media, but this felt important. It’s about imposter syndrome.

I joined Indeed as a Business Intelligence Analyst in the throes of writing my doctoral thesis. My career goals at the time were simple: I was going to wake up at 6am, work on my dissertation for a couple hours, go to work, make some cool charts, maybe run a regression or two, and go home. I figured I’d do that for a couple years and move on. Nothing particularly ambitious.

Now, six years later, I serve as a leader on Data Science teams across Indeed’s core search engine and metadata services. Our work powers the search experience for over 220M job seekers per month. I’ve helped grow teams, shape their cultures, and play a part in people’s career paths. 

Writing this now, I wonder how 2016 Robyn would have reacted. Would she even believe it? To be completely honest, most days I don’t believe it myself. The imposter syndrome has been real. I look around, point to myself, and say, “Who? Me?”

But it’s 2022 and I’m tired of doubting myself. Yes, I’m a relatively young cis-woman in a predominantly male space. Yes, I’m a sociologist by training, and not a computer scientist. Yes, sometimes I can be “too much”. But these are also the things that make me uniquely effective, and I’m extremely fortunate that Indeed is the kind of place that really walks the talk on diversity and inclusion. 

For those struggling with imposter syndrome, I have this advice: 

  • Read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset. It changed my life. 
  • Figure out your strengths and play to them. 
  • Learn something you’re scared to learn for 20 minutes everyday. 
  • Keep a learning notebook. Mine’s on Notion and serves as a little wiki for myself. It’s fun to see all the concepts you learn over the years and reminds you of how far you’ve come. 
  • Find the kindest subject matter expert at your company and ask them to walk you through what they do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. 
  • Get as many mentors as you can. They will believe in you even when you don’t and give you new ways to think about things. 

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