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School of Engineering

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Thursday, February 18, 2021
Computer science alumni shared their experiences with Imposter Syndrome and offered advice to students during a panel discussion.
Halligan Hall archway

The Department of Computer Science recently hosted a panel discussion titled Overcoming Imposter Syndrome. Six alumni participated as panelists, each drawing from their own unique experiences.

The topic first surfaced at a Computer Science Town Hall meeting in the fall. Concern that many Tufts students might be struggling with these feelings, along with pressures from studying remotely due to the pandemic, prompted the organization of the event.

Imposter Syndrome is an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. It is the feeling of being a fraud, a fear of being “found out,” or an internal dialogue that is overly critical of one’s performance and unwilling to accept praise for one’s accomplishments.

To assure students that they are not alone in experiencing these feelings, alumni shared their stories from their time on campus, graduate school, and their experiences in industry. They offered words of encouragement, with lessons like “everyone learns differently.” They also told students “don’t forget your accomplishments,” and reminded them that “having the stress to improve yourself can be good.” As students are looking ahead to internships, graduate schools, and careers, advice was given on how to mitigate feelings of Imposter Syndrome going forward.

The panelists recommended that new employees reach out to someone at the same level on their new team, set up one-on-one meetings with team members while working remotely, stay in touch with their Tufts Computer Science friends, and join a Facebook support group. While they recognized the fact that Imposter Syndrome never fully goes away, the overall message was to find people who will support you and to remember that you are, in fact, competent!

The department wishes to thank the panelists (Tafari Duncan, E17, Juan Carlos Montemayor Elosua, E13, Raasika Gaugler, A16, Elif Kinli, A17, Shilpa Nadimpalli Kobren, A11, and Iris Oliver A19) for their participation and Edward Alexander, Jr., Diversity Program Administrator, for serving as moderator.

The event was well attended by students, faculty, and staff and may be offered again in the future.