The Art of Learning & Imposter Syndrome

Prior to joining Codesmith, I had thought of myself as somewhat of a quick learner, similar to a sponge, I’m able to take in and absorb materials quickly and apply my newfound knowledge where needed. As I am stepping into my 7th week at Codesmith, I’ve come to realize that I might’ve misinterpreted what learning really is. Contrary to absorbing and applying information quickly, learning is more of a continuous journey to be taken in small, steady steps. Whilst my journey thus far has been bumpy, it has also been pleasantly rewarding. For the first time in a long time, I was challenged to think in ways that I haven’t before.

Looking back, the first six weeks flew by but oddly feels as if it were months ago. Since day 1, we were continuously being taught and introduced to new concepts and technology through unit lectures and applying what we’ve learned through pair programming sessions and assessments. I must admit, more than half the time, I came out of the lectures not understanding what I had just learned, or if I learned anything at all. This was novel to me, as I’ve always perceived myself to be a quick learner. I struggled during the pair programming sessions while applying the little bits of information that I’ve managed to retain from the lectures. Getting frustrated at myself for being “slow” became the norm as the days passed. I was flooded with this feeling of inadequacy and self-doubt, symptoms that manifests from an individual suffering from imposter syndrome. What ultimately broke the cycle was when I stopped comparing myself with my cohort mates and instead focused on the strides I made every day and my progress from the day before.

Week 5, the week where we finally started projects, was a game-changer for me. This was a phase where we were given the freedom to build whatever we pleased, making use of the different technology introduced to us the weeks prior. Initially, there was self-doubt and uncertainty. Would I really be able to build something with the limited knowledge I had? Nevertheless, I was excited to tackle this phase and put my hard work from the past weeks to the test. It turns out, I might not have given myself enough credit. I've retained and learned more than I thought I knew. As I built my job tracker application, I’ve realized that I do know how to set up routes and servers, I knew how to get my database started, I understood how to pass states around in React, and how to interactively style my front end. Though I stumbled upon roadblocks, I was able to navigate my way around by looking up documentations and technically communicating through my problems to my peers.

It was this “AHA!” moment that on top of all the technologies introduced to us, we were also being taught HOW to learn them. The unit challenges forced us to read and look up documents relevant to the problems we were encountering and to understand how to apply them to find our solutions. Pair programming sessions allowed us to communicate and bounce ideas off of our partners as we both charted unknown territory. It was this continuous cycle of taking small steps into learning something new every day that helped mold us into programmers that knew how to be resourceful and solidified our problem-solving skills.

As I am diving into my production project in a few days, I feel a bit more at peace with myself. If I could go back in time and tell myself one thing, it would be that it’s okay to not know/understand everything. Learning is a continuous journey with no finish line. It is also a valuable skill that I believe all developers should possess and am extremely grateful to have adopted. If there’s one thing that I’ve taken away from my journey at Codesmith, it’s relearning how to learn.

Blog written by Nicole D., Codesmith NY Cohort 20

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Codesmith’s Mentorship Program is designed to support residents in the first half of their Software Engineering Immersive journey. Read this blog where one of our students shares how being paired with a mentor helped her succeed in the Junior portion and be more confident about her future career path in tech.

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