{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Need advice and pep talk because I’m certain I have chronic imposter syndrome :( Background on me, I have about 6 years of work experience post college but have gone through many companies because of layoffs and/or reorgs. With that, I’ve bounced a lot with different industries and have done different roles for a year max. My current role is about to be my longest (thank goodness, hitting about 2 years) but I feel like I’m not a SME in anything but I feel embarrassment for myself (Cont.)", "post_id": "5ffe08641218c4002ac212ef", "reply_count": 87, "vote_count": 48, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d051", "bowl_name": "Consulting" }

Need advice and pep talk because I’m certain I have chronic imposter syndrome :( Background on me, I have about 6 years of work experience post college but have gone through many companies because of layoffs and/or reorgs. With that, I’ve bounced a lot with different industries and have done different roles for a year max. My current role is about to be my longest (thank goodness, hitting about 2 years) but I feel like I’m not a SME in anything but I feel embarrassment for myself (Cont.)

likehelpful
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Hey! Offering perspective here. I graduated from my masters when I was 27 and got my first true start to a career at that age. I felt so far behind these undergrads who were already making manager and director at a younger age than I was. Add to the fact that I’ve had to play versatile roles in my company and jumped on anything to prove I can be of value instantly since I didn’t have any SME relative to the folks I worked with. Even after getting my MHA, I was surrounded by people who were in one of the most specialized niches in healthcare and it made me feel so out of place. Fast forward a few years now, I realized my strongest ability (and yours too) is the ability to ADAPT and be FLEXIBLE. I don’t think people understand how liberating it is once you frame that notion to yourself. The idea is: you have, time and time again proven in your work that you can jump in anywhere and add value is a strength on its own. Take it is a challenge and watch how your mentality shifts. Put in the time, learn and be a sponge, and double down on the fact that you have faced adversity and challenges and you’re still working and proving value. Being “late” is just comparison and most of us (including myself) get caught up in that when we are constantly seeing each other broadcast out “wins”. Do you and frame your mindset to see what your accomplishing inter macro. The versatile skills you are learning from your experience can make you extremely valuable as time and work compounds. Be kind to yourself and take 3 deep breathes next time you feel this way and affirm your worth to yourself! Cheers!

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Great advice! I’m similar to you, graduated with my masters at 26yo and had my first professional job in hospital administration at that time. Most of my friends already were being look at for senior or manager while I was “just an analyst or consultant”. Just concentrate on being the best you can be and no one would judge

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I’m in my early 40’s and I still feel this way sometimes. I think we all do. I personally think subject matter expert is a misnomer (and jargon to boot). I like to think of it as subject matter experienced, meaning that you have direct hands-on experience with the subject matter. Continuing to learn and grow is important And an “expert” is not the end of the road I’m sure there are things that you know really well and that there are ways you can bring value to any team you’re on. Don’t get stuck on the titles. Maybe you are not good at any one thing, but may be good at reading between the lines and helping people make connections across activities even if you can’t claim to be an expert in any one of those activities. You work and varied knowledge base drives connection, communication, and understanding which is just as important as a deep knowledge of a technical skill. Focus on outcomes and what you can deliver.  Focus on honing your understand and leading others.

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Because I’m 27 and I should have deep expertise in comparison to my peers. But I just feel like there isn’t one thing I’m deeply an expert in due to the nature of me bouncing from diff jobs out of my will. So many people my age are managers, leads or directors, but it intimidates me so much. I feel so behind. Does it get better, how do I overcome this?

likesmarthelpful

This is a great post with responses from amazing ppl

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A subject matter expert is a buzz word nothing more. If anyone here was a true SME you’d have a PhD and be writing a book. 99% of the work people do is about problem solving. If you can think through a problem quickly you will have no problem being a SME. As far as getting up to director titles you need to know politics. Hard work doesn’t get you very far unfortunately so figure out how to win over the right people. It’s all a game. See where you want to be and figure out a path there.

likehelpfulfunny

So true, I am terrible at politics and so even though I have managed projects, between this and my imposter syndrome, I don’t know how to sell myself during those conversations

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I graduated at 26. I have friends who graduated at 30. You are way ahead.

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Shut up! I don’t know anyone that age who’s an expert. We’re all trying to figure it out. Just take a look around this app. 1) Learn to be content with where you are 2) Learn as much as you can in each role you take.

I don't have any advice but I'm a decade older and have the same issue. I feel like I don't "know" much and have been able to get by alright by being easy to work with and intelligent enough to usually figure out how to do a good job on a given task. I hope you figure it out way faster than I have been able to, because I've been having a bit of a personal crisis involving this.

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Thank you for sharing! I totally can relate with you about being easy to work with and just doing my best on a given task. Most times the mindset I have is I’ll try to find a solution on a task and I eventually do but getting there is always like a puzzle piece and never feel confident what I’m doing is correct. Whereas I feel like most people can do their task in their sleep. It’s just anxiety inducing, and I hope you get there in feeling confident!

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Hey OP, we're about the same age and have similar backgrounds. I've been let go as part of a reorg, been given disparate tasks that don't align to one subject matter, and been with half a dozen companies since graduating undergrad. It does get better, and for me that solution was identifying that disparate, partial expertise is in and of itself an expertise. Your ability to speak the languages of multiple industries or elements of an industry is invaluable, and I would encourage you to market yourself as someone who understands a little about a lot. It is more typical for someone to specialize in 1 area and become a manager in that, sure, but don't be discouraged because you have built up a unique skillset. The growth and pivot opportunities are far greater with a diversified background than some of your peers. You've positioned yourself (or rather been positioned) to have substantial job security for decades to come, and should be proud of your success across different areas.

likeupliftingsmarthelpful

This is me to a T. Except I’m 30.

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Samesies! Although just turned 31.

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I am 27 and I am still in my second year in a community college. I haven’t even gotten my bachelors degree yet. Most of my classmates are 19-20. I had college experience before moving to the USA where I was almost done, but moving to the USA I had to start all over from GED. As for work, I am just holding myself down and learning. If I start looking people my age who are very much ahead of me in my career, I won’t have any form of rest. My point is, you are not alone. You should focus on yourself and your goals. Please don’t look at people around you and NEVER compare yourself with others.

likeuplifting

I’m 37 and just made Manager, 5yrs in consulting, 8 in finance. You’re doing great and it’s a great thing that you are self-aware like that! Remember: perspective. Go OP, go! 👏 👏 👏

likeuplifting

Your background sounds like an experienced business process optimization SME. Sprinkle in some past accomplishments and you’re good.

likesmart

I graduated college (Poli Sci) and delivered furniture for three years. Then went to grad school and finally got a real job at 26. I didn’t get into consulting until 29. Been doing this for over 20 years. You are good.

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I have a guest on my podcast who spoke about this exact thing - episode comes out this Friday and she has some free down download able resources that go along with it. Podcast is called Career Advice That Gets Results, you can find it on most podcast players.

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Imposter syndrome is exactly that, a syndrome. If you were to analyze your own resume and skills from an outsiders perspective, I guarantee you, you'd say you're pretty qualified. If you weren't, you wouldn't be employed. So just take a deep breath, you're probbaly doing just fine. You don't have to be an SME to be considered useful.

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I graduated at 27, you are cool

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I’m nearly 30 years in and I still feel it from time to time. Just kick ass at what you do, and don’t let it get to you.

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A lot of great advice on this thread. I want to emphasize the age component. Try to keep perspective around where you are in your career. At six years out of college, you are (unfortunately) at most 20% of the way into your career. You have a solid, diverse foundation upon which you can build expertise in a number of areas. And you have plenty of time to do just that!

likesmart

I have a new podcast out on this topic today, with a few steps you can take to start overcoming this. https://open.spotify.com/episode/2IVhojsQMSj2DVaw5cTddS?si=ynb3tiX-T2Wj06ecXegnug

likehelpful

Need to check out your Pod Cast. Having some serious Imposter Syndrome these days

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Read the book « range ». It’s about the value of generalists in a world that’s narrowly focused on specialization. I’m a generalist. And reinvent my focus area am every few years to go a bit deeper in topics that Interest me. There’s hope!

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Every person has different career paths, don't compare yourself to others. Also most of the times people with a super rapid progression will eventually get stuck and you will catch up. In the end how often do you see c-suites below 40? Also remember some titles are just bs. I have seen regional directors or SVPs that are on individual contribution, so they are basically glorified senior consultants with better salaries but that's all. The firm they are in also plays a role sometimes you are CEO of a 4 man company.

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