Helping Your Students Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Helping Your Students Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Check out the video below to hear Ludo Fourrage, founder and CEO of Nucamp; Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia, founder and CEO of Product School; and Angela (Ceresnie) Prince, CEO of Climb Credit answer the question: “How do you manage the mindset of your students to not feel like they are the dumbest person in the cohort?”

Read the transcript:

Angela: “Learning to code is very difficult. One needs to be fully committed to learn and succeed. How do you manage the mindset of your students to not feel like they are the dumbest person in the cohort? That is such a good question … Ludo I’m gonna give that to you, given the technical nature of your program, and then Carlos.”

Ludo: “That’s a tough one because you’re gonna go through those phases where you’re gonna be exposed to things that are very complex … actually, you’re not gonna understand them at first, just period. And it’s going to take repetition, it’s going to take practice, it’s going to take you applying and kind of building that muscle of understanding that concept, to finally understand it. And so I am myself a coder, and I understand now things that I was doing six months ago and I feel like ‘oh, that’s why I was doing that.’ And so the techniques that I will give the person who’s like, ‘hey how am I not feeling the dumbest in the in the room,’ is to just accept the fact that you’re not going to understand straight away. And it’s a tough one to tell someone or to actually internalize, and in the coding bootcamp industry people will tell you trust the process, and it’s actually true. If you can actually hang on to that and trust the process, then you’re not gonna feel dumb. You’re gonna know that hey, maybe you’re not getting it now, but you’re gonna get it in three months after practicing, practicing, practicing. It’s just the nature of the of the beast, and one of the reasons is: the amount of knowledge that’s out there is going to feel super overwhelming, and you’re going to realize to understand that one thing, you actually need to understand ten times as much surrounding it to really finally understand that one thing. And it’s only when you’re going to understand the full spectrum of — and I know  I’m sounding scary right now, like it doesn’t sound too appealing. But it’s the reality, and the good news is, after after five, six months you’re gonna start to feel way more comfortable. You’re gonna actually experience that progression of “I didn’t get it, now I get it,” right? And you’re gonna feel more and more comfortable with that situation of being like: “why don’t i get it?”

Angela: “That’s the nature of learning anything new, but I think with software development there’s an added angle that the the medium is always changing and evolving. There’s always new languages that that you’re going to need to master, and so one of the features of being a software developer is probably being comfortable with not being good at something at the beginning. Because it’s like anyone who’s learned a language — as soon as you open up the textbook to the first page, you start at zero.”

Ludo: “That’s a great analogy. Imagine you’re learning French for the first time, and all you do is learn a book translation. And then we drop you in France and you have to form a sentence, and you’re like, “I actually don’t know anything.”

Angela: “Then as soon as as soon as you’re fluent, we take you over to Russia and we drop you there.”

Ludo: “There you go, That’s exactly the feeling.”

Angela: “Carlos, what do you think about that?”

Carlos: “When i started computer science it, was a five-year full-time program. I didn’t touch a computer in the first year! Literally it was math and theory and all that stuff, and okay, but when am i going to product? And everyone’s like “don’t worry, we’ll get there.” So i’m glad that now there are more efficient paths to that. That’s one — now, the fact that there are more efficient paths doesn’t mean that it’s easy, right? Like getting a job in tech or as an engineer, it’s hard. It requires commitment. And it’s good that now at least you know your options, but there’s no replacement for hard work and dedication. That’s unfortunately the the hard truth there, and that applies to many other skills of course. But I also have an additional perspective to this, which is — obviously, I don’t know the person who asked the question — what I would like to say is that for anyone looking to work in tech: yes, having a coding foundation will help obviously, especially if you want to work as an engineer, but not all the tech jobs require coding. And if for some reason you don’t feel that it’s your passion, that’s okay. Maybe there are other options out there in design, user research, marketing, there are many different options. So I have to say, having a technical background helped me in my career. Even though I don’t code these days, I appreciate and I can connect with engineers in a certain way. But I also don’t want to scare everybody and make them feel like their only path to work in tech is to be a master at Python, Javascript, or whatever programming language comes next.”

Angela: “And the thing I would also add to that is, in terms of just referencing the language around being the “dumbest person in a cohort,” is that we’re only as good as the questions we ask. And so one thing I think I’ve learned in my career is never be shy of what you don’t know, and you’ll be shocked at how much people want to help you. Especially teachers, people who are running schools, but probably also classmates and colleagues. There’s a real camaraderie I think in this industry, and at the end of the day if you’re sitting there and you don’t understand, something raise your hand because people want to help. And there’s enough jobs out there in technology and product for everyone. So it really can be a collaborative and positive experience if you get the confidence in yourself that you can ask the questions when things aren’t clear.”

Carlos: “I think asking questions and not being afraid of saying ‘I don’t understand, can you please repeat’ is really powerful.”

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