We Never Thought We Had Anything Worth Sharing
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Posted by: Megan Randall & Sarah Kovalesky
Have you ever had a moment when someone put into words the imposter syndrome you may have been feeling in your workplace, especially as a new professional?
This happened to us recently in an email exchange:
Megan: "This Career Myths resource is great, Sarah! If you have the time, you should totally write an article about this!"
Sarah: "Glad you like it - I can’t take full credit for it though because it came from my previous office. I have never really thought about writing an article before…I just have never really thought I had anything new or different worth sharing."
Megan: "OMG, ME TOO…But what would happen if we believed in ourselves?"
Shortly after, we met and had a heart-to-heart about our perceived value as new professionals in our office. We took turns reminding each other about the resources we’d shared with each other that had enhanced our work. We talked about the pressure we’d been feeling to be ‘experts’ in a particular area in order to feel like our voices mattered. In the end, we realized we were both making a difference through our work, we weren’t alone in feeling insecure in the workplace, and we did indeed have something worth sharing.
Inspired by our conversation, we’ve outlined the current strategies we’re using to overcome our imposter syndrome, below, in hopes that we inspire you to be able to do the same.
- Be courageous to share your knowledge. Challenge the assumption that your colleagues already know what you have to share. We regularly share techniques and resources we have learned from our previous colleagues and institutions, and are constantly surprised by how our old tricks are brand new to each other.
- Find your champion(s) in your office, such as a colleague or supervisor, with whom you can be open and honest. Find ways to partner and bounce ideas off of each other. We have become champions for each other by building each other up.
- Be okay with saying ‘I don’t know.’ This doesn’t mean you are not good at your job. Instead, it means that you are willing to be vulnerable and accept you do not know everything. We have become comfortable asking questions, exploring new ideas together, and admitting that we are not experts and we always have room to grow.
- Take initiative to create new things. Brainstorm and create new processes and resources. Think about what you might do differently to add your own spin on existing things, then share your ideas. For example, we have been creating a new career exploration handout that summarizes all of our career exploration strategies for students.
- Get involved. Volunteer to participate on committees, lead projects, or collaborate. For example, Megan joined the Student Affairs Professional Development Committee and Sarah partnered with our Assistant Director of Programming to revamp our PowerPoints.
- Play to your strengths. Think about what you are best at and how you can bring that to your team. With her background in curriculum design, Megan led a team to create a new student activity booklet. Sarah is continuing this work by leading a team to revamp our office’s PowerPoints.
- Collaborate with graduate assistants and new team members! Regardless of the years and types of experiences we have in our fields, we all have something to contribute, even from early on. Working with new additions in our office allows us to share our existing knowledge and skills, and helps us recognize how much we already know about our roles. We regularly involve graduate assistants and new team members in our work so we can help one another recognize our mutual value.
- Keep an accomplishment log or “Daily High” journal. Keep track of what you have done or what is going well, and take time to reflect. Doing this helps us remember the achievements that have made us into the professionals we are today, and helps us stay motivated.
- Seek out more training. Use your imagination; nothing is out of bounds. Recently, Sarah became certified in the Strong Interest Inventory assessment and Megan is working towards becoming certified in the Clifton Strengths assessment.
While we may never completely overcome our imposter syndrome, we’re slowly become more comfortable and confident in ourselves by using the strategies above. We’ve learned to be gentle with ourselves and trust that this is a journey. Sometimes realizing your value in the workplace takes time.
Regardless of wherever you are in your own professional journey, we hope you come to realize, like we did, that you do have something worth sharing, and that others need to hear it.
About the Authors
Megan Randall has been a Career Coach at the University of Utah’s Career and Professional Development Center since June 2017, and has closely supported undergraduate students in the Colleges of Engineering, Architecture + Planning, and Humanities during her tenure. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Skidmore College and a Master’s degree in International Education from the School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute, and spent 8 years working in the field of international education before transitioning to work in the field of career development in June 2017.
Sarah Kovalesky is a Career Coach at the University of Utah’s Career & Professional Development Center, working closely with undergraduates in the College of Social and Behavioral Science and the College of Social & Cultural Transformation. Sarah received her Master's degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Kansas in May 2019 where she was a Graduate Assistant at the University Career Center, and has previously worked in First-Year Success and Residence Life.
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