Imposter Syndrome and apprenticeships

“It’s only a matter of time before they realise I got in by a complete fluke.”

“I feel like a massive fraud.”

“There must have been some sort of mix up with my application.”

“I don’t belong here.”

Do these statements sound familiar? Don’t worry, these aren’t unusual questions we ask ourselves when we embark on something new or feel out of our depth. It’s our inner self doubt or perhaps a trigger by a conversation with someone and is referred to as ‘imposter syndrome’.

What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a feeling that you don’t belong in a particular space, whether that’s university, a company or any other environment, even though you have every right to be there.  You basically feel like a fake/fraud/imposter; that you don’t deserve your seat at the table; that literally anyone would do a better job than you and that it’s only a matter of time before someone tells you to pack your bags and leave.

This is surprisingly a very common feeling amongst the population. One study suggests that more than 80 percent of adults experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives.
It’s particularly an issue for high performers, those from underrepresented groups and new starters such as (you guessed it) apprentices.

How do I recognise and overcome this?
As an apprentice, there could be many instances where you feel like an imposter.  Maybe you’re a school leaver and almost always the youngest person in your work meetings?
Maybe you’re one of only a few women in an industry predominantly made up of men?
Maybe you’re the only person from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background in your apprentice group?

The list goes on.
So, how can you reduce the feeling of imposter syndrome as an apprentice to ensure it doesn’t hold you back at work?

  • Understand that you’ve met the entry requirements for your apprenticeship and have been selected because of your unique skill sets and personality. No mistake was made. You’ve earned this spot and deserve to be where you are.
  • Appreciate that everyone feels like a bit of an imposter at the start of anything new. Even the most experienced managers were probably feeling what you are when they first started out – we’re only human after all!
  • Flip the script. Use your negative feelings of imposter as a positive signal to show you’re outside your comfort zone. Growth is never comfortable so just reframe the situation to see it as yourself being stretched rather than a sign to doubt yourself.

Reach out to your mentor and assessor/tutor it helps to talk about your worries.

You’ve got this!