×
Create a Free Profile on PowerToFly
Exclusive event invitations with hiring managers, live chats with female thought leaders and the latest remote, flexible and in office roles at companies committed to creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces.
GET EMAIL UPDATES FROM POWERTOFLY
Braintree

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Below is an article originally written by Chrissie Deist at PowerToFly Partner Braintree. Go to Braintree's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Like many of the developers at Braintree, I didn't study CS in college. Instead, I stumbled onto an online Python course four years after graduating with a degree in economics. I remember the thrill of writing my first program, which not only worked, but actually did something useful. Admittedly, the "usefulness" of the program -- which found the most common word in a text file -- was debatable, but the experience revealed to me that tedious manual tasks can be accomplished with problem-solving logic and a few lines of code.

I recently attended a DjangoGirls meetup hosted by Braintree, where I spoke with a number of female developers whose experience was similar to mine. We all shared a passion for the problem-solving aspect of programming, but we had grown up thinking that software was the domain of the solitary geniuses who had been rebuilding computers and configuring servers since early childhood. Even until recently, I often wondered if I could ever be a "real" software developer because I didn't have the right background.

What attracted me to programming was its logic -- identifying a problem, then figuring out how to write code to solve it.

I quickly discovered, however, that logic is only one component of software development. In my first few months at Braintree, I faced a continual stream of terms and concepts that were foreign to me, but which seemed elementary to everyone else. Proxy servers, gpg encryption, database clusters, middleware, worker queues, continuous integration, ssh agents, program threads....¹ I was fortunate to have coworkers who responded to my questions with patience and understanding instead of open shock at my ignorance. But even their helpful explanations sometimes left gaps in my understanding. I often turned to Google, which led to Wikipedia articles containing even more terms I didn't know, and a seemingly never-ending "wiki-hole." At times, I took this struggle as a sign that I didn't belong in the software industry.

I know that this feeling of imposter syndrome is not unique to female developers, but because women are less likely to have been encouraged to explore programming at an early age, they are more likely to enter the field unfamiliar with fundamental concepts.

Braintree is committed to breaking down the barriers that keep women out of tech, so I share my story with the hope that it will encourage women who might otherwise think they don't "have what it takes" to be a developer. An innate understanding of the software ecosystem is not what makes a great developer. A love of problem-solving and the willingness to work through difficult concepts, to ask questions, and to be honest about what you know and don't know -- these are the essential qualities of great developers.

I also write this as a call to more senior developers. When working with less experienced developers (male or female), share not only what you know, but also what you once didn't know. One of the most helpful things I was told in my first few months at Braintree was, "Don't expect to feel like you know what you're doing for at least six months. Maybe a year." Knowing that I was not alone in my confusion allowed me to ask questions and make mistakes, and to do the best I could within the boundaries of what I knew while working to push those boundaries further. I can easily imagine quitting if not for the encouragement of those around me, the positive feedback on the things I was doing well, and the reminder that the things I had yet to master took time.

I've now been at Braintree almost a year. I still ask a lot of questions. But increasingly I find myself in conversations where I'm using and understanding language that would have been gibberish to me six months ago. And the biggest difference isn't just in terms of what I know, it's that the new questions I have no longer make me question whether or not I belong here.


  1. ...SSL certificates, SDKs, ports, sockets, deploys, cron jobs, Redis, virtual machines, builds.
popular

Business Casual for Women - Summer Edition

With Instagram Feeds From Your Favorite Style Influencers

Is anyone else holding their breath for summer to arrive? I know I can't wait to dust off my summer wardrobe.

As the seasons change, we have an opportunity to switch things up and have some fun liberating our personal style! But business casual for women in the summer can get confusing. Men can rely on the standard khakis plus polo shirt summer work vibe, but for women it's not so straightforward. Even less so when you need an outfit that works just as well during a sweaty morning commute as it does in a freezing office with the thermostat set way too low.

So how can you create a summer look that's breathable, comfortable, professional, and modern? I'm here to help you navigate those questionable waters!

READ MORE Show less
Inspiration

The Problem With "Boys Will Be Boys"

How It Ends Up Hurting Women And Men

The phrase "boys will be boys" makes my blood boil. But I realized when I sat down to write this piece that I didn't know exactly why.

READ MORE Show less

Women in Finance: Help Us Understand the Gaps by Completing This 5-Minute Survey

Although nearly 50% of employees in the finance industry are women, 85% of finance executives are men.

We want to learn from the experiences of women working in the industry - and the perspectives of women working outside it - to help finance leaders make real strides towards gender parity at all levels.

Have 5 minutes to help? Share your opinions in the anonymous survey below. (You can access it here if it doesn't load.)


Create your own user feedback survey

What Is a Competitive Salary - And How To Negotiate One

You see an ad for your dream job. And by some miracle, you actually have all 20 of the preferred qualifications!

So you hurriedly scroll to the bottom of the publication to see what the salary range and benefits are… only to find that "competitive salary" is all that's listed.

What the heck does competitive salary actually mean?!

READ MORE Show less
Loading...
© Rebelmouse 2019