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My imposter syndrome



imposter syndrome at work

There’s a well known issue about the psychology of the majority of people working on Data Science. They feel a fraud. There’s no public study about it to my knowledge but informal guess in meetings and tech talks ended with several (if not all) hands up agreeing with the next sentence:

“I think that I’m a fraud and don’t deserve the success I’ve achieved.”

For me as a psychologist, it’s a very interesting area of investigation and would like to discover some serious study about it, but there’s some clear (and guessed) causes for such a feeling. The most obvious is the Data Science field is a very new and hybrid field where the path is not formally stablished, at least as a “work position”.

You can not study a degree on “Data Science” as you can on Engineering or Psychology, so you have to struggle, gather your skillset from your base career to achieve the minimum required skills to be productive in this area. From a mathematician standpoint it would involve some scientific methodology/thinking but from the standpoint of pshychology it could be programming skills and deepening statistical knowledge instead.

The point is: you’ll never be prepared to be a Data Scientist but working on it. Hence the feeling of not being suitable for the task. Or worse, rejecting the credit you clearly deserve for your work.

On a personal note, I must say this feeling is an old friend but funnily, it disappeared when I started working on Data Science as it “became” a working title some years ago (at the same time everyone around me started to feel they’re frauds).

The reason for this is I started working long time (looooong time) ago with tech teams, mainly on SysOps and Databases, and that time I was the weird addition to the team. Nobody could believe a Psychologist could be so skilled on database maintenance, relational design, and Business Intelligence tools. So back then, I felt sometimes very lonely. I’ve always had to struggle and prove my worth. Lucky me, I’m good at it.

But now, let me say it in plain english: I’m happy as a clam (at high tide).

With people coming from different and diverse background, interdisciplinary teams and many (maaaany) things to learn, these are exciting times for me, feeling comfy for the first time in my life.

So, where’s the imposter syndrome? long time gone.