“I just got this job by luck, I feel like I do not belong here.”
“I feel like everyone in my team is smarter than I am.”
“I feel like I’m unable to comprehend anything. I am going to fail.”
Many suffer from impostor syndrome at some point in their lifetime related to the work that they do. Those who are constantly in doubt about their potential, work and success.
Impostor syndrome is very common for individuals who feel like they are never good enough no matter how much they have accomplished, how smart others say they are and how successful they may seem to be. It is never enough for them because they find it hard to accept praise and constantly fear failure. It usually affects their confidence and career growth in the long-term.
❀ Instead of striving for perfection, know that it is OKAY to be imperfect. Accentuate on the value that you bring and be realistic on the goals that you are setting for yourself.
❀ This is easier said than done, but push yourself to work harder to the point where you don’t feel like an imposter. You have to do all the stuff that makes you feel like an imposter in order to not feel like an imposter. Don’t wait until you develop your confidence, because by then it would be too late. Put yourself out there now. Courage comes from taking risks.
❀ If you make mistakes, don’t beat yourself up to it. Take the time to learn from it, and how you can overcome this differently and do so with care – by taking responsibility for your failures. Analyze those mistakes honestly and objectively. Ask yourself the 5 W’s and H on what you did wrong. Map out a plan and practice the skills that will prevent you from repeating the same mistakes. “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
❀ Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone has their own stories, own strengths and weaknesses.
❀ Aspire to learn from your team members to know more about your role. It is okay to ask for help when you don’t understand. Learn to appreciate constructive criticism because when you don’t ask for help, you are actually putting your team behind. When you ask a question, it will bring more ideas to the table and oftentimes – inquiring leads to better solutions.
❀ “Chances are, acting on what you’ve learned will require the discipline and motivation to change your habits, or to change the way that your team works. Doing so will help you to avoid self-sabotage in the future, and will allow you to reap the rewards and benefits of implementing better work practices.” – according to MindTools
❀ Own your success. You did not get the job by luck. You got the job because the hiring manager saw potential in you. Believe in yourself that you are capable of doing the job. This also means, be more open to saying “YES” to opportunities that come your way. Of course, those who have had impostor syndrome for a very long time, can find it hard to accept new challenges, because they feel that they are not capable or worthy of taking on that challenge. But be mindful that saying ‘yes’ can open many doors for you. Don’t let impostor syndrome shy you away from these growing opportunities. “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes. Then learn how to do it later.” –Richard Branson
❀ Let go of that pressure on yourself, let go of your perfectionism and break the ropes on all of that negative talk! Impostor syndrome is often like a devil that manifests as an evil spirit inside one’s mind because all the negative thoughts that are controlling you, can heavily impact your stress and anxiety levels. Be more selfish for your own good and treat yourself with more respect and positivity. Your body is like a temple.
❀ Embrace your feelings, stay kind to yourself and bring positivity to the spotlight! Take it one step at a time and don’t let self-doubt consume you. Let us be guided by facts, not fear.
Some have inquired about how they can avoid or protect themselves from being laid off in the future, or seeking a career that would be recession-proof. This can be a scary thing especially for folks who are employed with a company that offers no stability, no perks and no advancement opportunities.. and even companies who are at risk of laying off their employees right now due to the global recession. During a time of uncertainty, this is very tough because nobody is immune to this.
In this case, half of the world is unemployed due to unwanted situations of COVID-19: temporary furloughs which in many cases, leads to permanent furloughs and massive layoffs over the span of 2-3 months since the pandemic.
So, for those of you who are currently employed, take a moment to appreciate the job/career that you have. Appreciate your contributions. Appreciate your colleagues. Be thankful for what you have and what you receive. Many of us do not take the time to think about this, however the job that you are currently employed at, gives back to you in many ways. Of course, income is one of them. But think about the things you are receiving at the moment: paid time off, health insurance, blended benefits, experiential rewards. The list goes on.. There is always something to be thankful for.
Sometimes, layoffs are hard to avoid (due to organizational restructuring, business downsizing, a pandemic, etc), however the list of advice below are ways you can prevent or protect yourself to lower the odds.
You should hone or learn a new, unique skill that will set you apart from others in the applicant pool. Put a plan in place to gain those new skills. List the skills that you want to learn.
Make an effort to educate yourself on all aspects of your employer. During these strenuous economic times, it is likely possible that you may be asked to take on additional tasks of other employees – which can be something that you may be under qualified / overqualified for, let alone something that you do not feel comfortable in taking on.
Show that positive demeanor, no matter how hard it can get – because in the long run, this behavior will yield good results. Employers will most likely remember those who assisted them through these arduous times.
When you are knowledgeable of all aspects of your employer, this shows that you are more exposed to different projects and learning about what other teams are doing. If you make the effort to engage in team meetings, inquiring to collaborate and assist colleagues with project deadlines that they are struggling to meet, this will convince the employer that you are a valuable asset to them – leading them to reconsider their decision in letting you go. You already have built a strong bond with the employer and they will have a difficult time in letting you go.
Do not slack off just because you have received a positive performance review or an appraisal from your boss/supervisor.
Take an extra mile and do more than just the responsibilities that are being assigned to you. Deliver great results. Understand the contribution that you make. This is key to becoming a superstar in your workplace. Employers want irreplaceable employees.
Put your skills into use and take ownership. Acknowledge how you are viewed and reevaluate what your reputation is. Instead of focusing on day-to-day and short-term goals of the job, start thinking of long-term goals and how you can demonstrate your leadership to your employer.
How can I improve the financial health of the business?
How can I build a lasting legacy?
How can I increase more traffic?
What new strategies or tools can I implement to market my employer?
Any new products or services I can add to the employer’s existing offerings?
Are there ways I can increase productivity?
What are some of the best practices to increase market share online?
If you are a job seeker who is seeking employment during this suffering economy, make sure that you are researching on the fastest growing companies. If you are located in the New York City area, you may find this helpful: 100 Fastest Growing Companies in New York City in 2020. Don’t let the unemployment numbers fool you, as the labor market is more competitive now than it ever was before due to the high number of job seekers and less job openings.
There are many benefits to working for the fastest growing companies. While many businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors are heavily affected, there are still fast growing companies that are still flourishing despite the ongoing pandemic such as the tech sector and software companies.
Stay in touch with your network on LinkedIn and reconnect with your existing connections – such as your former bosses/supervisors/colleagues, employment advisors! Do so in a meaningful way where they can speak favorably and highly of you. With this, you will have more people to speak with, as well as keeping you in the loop of any potential opportunities that can reduce your chances of being laid off.
If the employer you are working for is at risk of laying off their workers or filing a bankruptcy chapter, you might want to put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Seek ways and methods to help your employer reduce costs, increase revenues, etc.
Emily Chan has recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management and Entrepreneurship. Four years ago if you had told her this, she would’ve thought that you were crazy! Growing up, Emily had always wanted to be a doctor and her parents have always wanted her to be a doctor. It was the only career path she really knew that she was certain about so for the first two years of college, Emily was taking pre-medical classes like Chemistry, Biology, Physics, etc. and all of her extracurricular activities were focused around this field. Emily volunteered at Saint Peter’s University Hospital near her campus, she worked part time at an ophthalmology office, she performed research at a campus lab through the Aresty Research program, and she was involved with various on-campus medical organizations like the American Medical Student Association.
Despite immersing herself fully in this career path that she always thought she wanted, she was incredibly unhappy, stressed, and unfulfilled. Emily started questioning herself whether or not she was making the right decision and whether medicine was truly what she wanted to pursue for the rest of her life. These feelings intensified throughout sophomore year and it was a period of uncertainty and fear, but also growth.
Emily felt an overwhelming urge to explore other areas of study, but she had no clue where to start! There was so much pressure to find her “passion” and being that she has already spent two years taking classes that she no longer needed anymore, she felt even more pressured to quickly discover something that she liked. Therefore, she began reaching out to her advisor as well as her network of older friends and classmates to seek for advice. Talking through her strengths and weaknesses, as well as her likes and dislikes has really narrowed down the list for her. Emily came to the realization that she wanted to be in a position that is focused around people and that was how she landed her career in Human Resources Management!
Emily began enrolling in introductory HR classes and she received an internship outside of school to supplement her knowledge. She wanted to gain a 360 experience of in-class knowledge as well as real world experiences to see if HR was what she really wanted to pursue. Obviously, Emily ended up sticking with it and she can gladly say it was one of the best decisions that she has made in college!
Right out of graduation, Emily was offered a full-time opportunity with Microsoft as a Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations and she has recently launched a passion project called CEO Mindsets that is focused on providing digestible and actionable career advice. She can definitely say that she has come a long way since she first started college and she is really excited to see how her career will grow in the future! Connect with Emily on LinkedIn if you are seeking for career advice!
• What role has your education at Rutgers University and your colleagues/mentors/family/friends played in your career path?
Both my personal and professional network have been an immense help in getting me to where I am today. When I first started thinking about switching career paths, I didn’t even have a resume or know how to properly write one! I asked so many different people for help to write and review my resume and to this day, I still use all of the advice I received when I’m editing my own resume or reviewing other people’s resumes. Something I’ve realized is that most people are more than willing to help if you just ask. I’m so grateful for all the help and support I’ve received throughout these last couple of years from both my personal and professional network.
• How has your HR internships prepared you for your role as a Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations at Microsoft?
Through my various internship experiences, I’ve gotten a behind the scenes look at how different recruiting processes can be at different companies. Not one company is perfect, but each one has their strengths. I can take the strengths that I’ve picked up from each company and bring them all to my work as a Talent Sourcer at Microsoft. My various HR internships have also taught me to be confident in the workplace and understand that I can bring value to the table despite my young age.
• What are you hoping to accomplish and contribute during your time at Microsoft?
During my time at Microsoft, I am hoping to add to the diversity at the company through recruiting. It already seems like a company that values diversity and I want to supplement that. Diversity is so important in and out of the workplace and I want to create an environment where people feel comfortable being their authentic selves. I also want to create a group at Microsoft that focuses on community service through crafting, which are two of my biggest passions. All throughout college, I was part of a school organization called Craft to Cure that creates functional crafts like hand warmers, dog toys, etc. to donate to local charities and it would be amazing to find a community passionate about crafting and community service at Microsoft!
• What are your long-term goals at the moment?
My first long term goal is to become a full-time entrepreneur. After my internships, I’ve realized that I really didn’t like being confined to a 9-5 job. I definitely learned a lot while working in corporate jobs and I really appreciate the network I’ve built as well as establishing a routine. However, the ultimate vision for me is to be my own boss. I enjoy the autonomy of it and I can really pursue anything I can dream of! One idea that has been in the back of my mind is opening my own coffee shop that features Asian flavors as a tribute to my culture. I really enjoy coffee and have an Instagram page dedicated to it – @ssmolbeans.
My second long term goal is to be more financially literate. Money has always been a sensitive topic for me. I’ve noticed that a lot of women shy away from this topic. My goal is to learn more about personal finance, how to invest, and how to build and maintain wealth. I recently started following personal finance Instagrammers and Youtubers and have learned so much so far, but I still have a long way to go! I’m excited to start on this journey of being more transparent about money and having a healthier relationship with money overall.
• Congratulations on launching your business venture, CEO Mindsets! Could you tell us more about what drove you and your friend to start this? What is the purpose/goal of this business?
One of my biggest inspirations to start CEO Mindsets is @girlmeetswealth on Instagram. This is a personal finance page run by someone I knew from high school and she posts tons of awesome tips that have helped me start my personal finance journey. I’ve always loved content creation and posting on my personal Instagram and after following @girlmeetswealth for a couple months, I was inspired to do something similar but for my area of expertise: job searching. I was also inspired by a post I saw on LinkedIn that listed some really great companies that were founded during a recession and I thought to myself, “Now is as good of a time as ever. If other people can do it, I can do it too.” So I told my friend how I wanted to do this and she wanted to join in and the rest is history!
The goal of CEO Mindsets is to provide digestible and actionable tips about careers, job searching, networking, professional development, etc. A lot of students don’t know where to start when it comes to any of this or feel extremely overwhelmed. I was definitely in a similar situation when I was in school and did a lot of soul searching to find what works for me. We want to help students and graduates bridge the gap between their passions and careers!
• You have experienced the same path as many other students, where you were certain that you would become who you thought you would be as an undergrad – however things took off in a different direction. What would you tell those group of individuals?
Take your time and don’t worry about having things figured out. Everyone moves at a different pace through life and there is no need to feel rushed because other people already know what they want to do. You have your story and they have theirs. Take it day by day and trust that everything will work out!
• You hold a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management and Entrepreneurship. This is an interesting combination. What led you to go towards these 2 fields of your studies?
I chose Human Resources Management because I wanted to be in a position that is focused around people. I love being able to help others and I find it very fulfilling. I chose Entrepreneurship because of an elective I took that was part of that curriculum called Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. This class changed my mindset so much. It taught me to go out of my comfort zone to become better. It taught me that it’s okay to not have everything figured out. It taught me to chase after the things I want. Human Resources Management can be a little outdated sometimes and I want to be able to apply a fresh and innovative entrepreneurial mindset to the industry.
• You were very active throughout your college career as a peer mentor and president for clubs/organizations. How did these extracurricular activities help you develop professionally and support your success?
These extracurricular activities taught me how to manage my time better. Having a full calendar can be really fun and rewarding, but also overwhelming at times. Because of all of my responsibilities, I had to learn how to use my time more efficiently and separate my time for work and fun. It’s really a balancing act but once you master it, you won’t be stressed about work when you’re relaxing and vice versa. This will be extremely useful in establishing a work life balance when I start working full time!
• Are there any advice you would like to share for students or final undergrads?
Two pieces of advice:
Everything is a lesson. Try to learn as much as you can from every win and every loss.
One of my favorite professors once told me this: In your life you will be faced with, on average, 10 opportunities that will change your life. It’s your job to recognize these opportunities and say yes to them.
James G. Norman has always been passionate about financial literacy and is very well acquainted with the business world since his teenage years.
Throughout his early years at The High School of Economics and Finance, he has held prestigious internships at Ernst & Young, one of the Big Four accounting firms as well as Moody’s Corporation, which is a credit rating, research and risk analysis firm located at the World Trade Center – in the heart of the Financial District. He recently graduated from Susquehanna University on May of 2018, holding a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management. Right out of graduation, he was offered a full-time role as a Financial Institutions Group Analyst from Moody’s, which comprised of insurance and asset management.
James started his new role as a Risk Management & Analytics Associate on January 2020 and was recently promoted to a Risk Mitigation Manager at TheGuarantors, a Fintech company that offers innovative insurance risk/products and financial solutions for the real estate ecosystem in residential and commercial properties. I can confidently say that anyone who has closely worked with James, is extremely grateful during a pivotal time in their career and any team would be privileged to have him as a leader. James has successfully scaled business and tackled challenging numbers during his time at TheGuarantors. While he is transitioning his responsibilities into his new role, I can assure that he is bound to build a great culture for his team from the ground up to succeed. James is the definition of a T-shaped business leader, leveraging his breadth of experience and inherent curiosity to tackle new challenges and surface actionable solutions that have long-lasting impact on the company.
He is in transition from finance to public service as he has always enjoyed working with the community and giving back. At just the age of 24, James has accomplished so many incredible things – let alone, achieving extraordinary success so early in his life.
When I think of James, this saying comes to my mind:
The idea of the young prodigy is by no means a modern phenomenon.
When it comes to James’ presence and reputation, I only have positive things to say about him, his leadership, his motivational speeches, his incredible relationship building, his keen intelligence and his business acumen in the professional world. He is a visionary, an inspiration, a role model and an original to many.
James is a very goal oriented and gifted kind of individual who’s qualities outshine in a way that truly motivates his peers, classmates and colleagues to hit their own individual goals. From the way he presents himself in front of a group of Millennials and Generation Z’s, I can see the emotion that’s written on him as he speaks. He shows humor, empathy and compassion in the work that he does. James is a quick problem solver and would swiftly turn around any obstacle into a great learning experience, despite any challenges and blockers.
Being the dedicated and well versed professional that James is, he truly believes that if you want to achieve something, that you will do it. He is eager and driven in giving back to his community and setting young students up for success by teaching them financial literacy, identifying their personal/professional goals, developing leadership skills and planning career moves and transitions. The one who always goes the extra mile and is airtight in his delivery. Many great things will come of the financial sector and the NYC community due to his excellent work ethic coupled with his go-getter attitude/mindset.
Finance is very dynamic field due to the expansion of the global economy, the proliferation of new financial instruments, and the fluctuations in laws and regulations.
Is finance a dream career that you are looking to pursue OR a career that you are looking to transition into? Are you mathematically gifted and love working with numbers? Do you possess strong analytical and quantitative skills? Then this may be the trajectory that you want to take.
Not only do companies seek for the hard skills, however soft skills are just as major. According to GoGig, many companies hire finance employees based on personality as well – such as those who hold common traits of resilience, curiosity, persistence, loyalty, integrity and professionalism, team spirit, empathy, and sense of humor.
Below, James outlines a more detailed career snapshot of his journey.
• Many folks are uncertain about their career path until they enter college and even after they graduate. How did you know that this trajectory was “the one” for you? In other words, what propelled you to go into the finance sector?
From a young age my godfather, Leslie Roberts, introduced me to the world of finance. I remember in the summertime I would visit him in New Jersey and some days we would just go to the library to learn the ins and outs of the stock market. That is what birthed my interest. No pun intended. That combined with knowing I loved business and helping individuals solidified my interest down the line. People hold their finances near and dear to them. So, if I can help improve that aspect of their life in any capacity, I am happy.
• You have an excellent proven track record as a business leader throughout high school, college and the clubs/organizations that you were a member of. Could you tell us more about how these experiences molded you personally and professionally?
I have always enjoyed using my skills to help people or improve processes. I actively take opportunities that will allow me to do this. Throughout my academic career I was afforded many. One of my favorites was being CEO of my Virtual Enterprise class during my senior year of high school. This was a class but took on the format of an actual business. We specialized in selling 401K plans to other “businesses” across other high schools. This experience allowed me to learn a great deal about myself as an emerging leader and professional. I learned how to work with many different personalities and unify them to accomplish one common goal. I also learned that when you are tasked with leading, you must take the good with the not so good. As a company we did well but we did have our bumps, however it brought out the best in us. This experience set me up for what was to come in college and my professional career. I also took on many other positions such as SGA Treasurer and my fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma’s, Treasurer in college. I was able the use my skills in financial management to create budgets and funding that would prove beneficial to all stakeholders of these respective organizations.
• You have held various roles throughout your career in the field of finance. Which one would you say is your favorite and why?
My favorite position in the field of finance to this date would have to be my internship of Summer ’16 at Moody’s in their Treasury department. I had an active hand in the cash management section of the team. Being trusted with some of those checks made me feel official because those amounts were crazy. My boss, Zeeshan, was a savant when it came to treasury. I learned so much from our 1 on 1s. Lastly, I was able to work closely with the Treasurer and CFO of the company. They knew me on a first name basis, and I sat in on many meetings with them leading. It was an overall cool experience that I will never forget.
• I know that you recently started a new role at TheGuarantors. What does your current role involve? What do you enjoy about it? Are there any challenges?
My role at The Guarantors is a Risk Mitigation Manager. I am responsible for making sure our loss ratio is as low as possible. Being that we are a real estate tech start-up that specializes in providing insurance products, we need to make sure that we limit the amount of loss we take on. I do this by making sure tenants are honoring their lease obligations as well as being in constant contact with landlords and property managers for when cases do arise. This is my main responsibility, however given the nature of start-ups, I wear many different hats around to the company. I enjoy being given free range and the trust to control my own projects and responsibilities. Knowing that my work is directly impacting the success of the company is something that makes me put my best foot forward. There a few challenges, however. The main one being that in a company structure like mine, it is learn as you go. There are sometimes where mistakes are made but it gives you the chance to remedy and learn from the situation. This just comes with the territory.
• What key skills are entailed to be successful as a Risk Management & Analytics Associate?
Some key skills that are vital in being a successful Risk Associate are great communication, attention to detail, empathy, and negotiation. You need to be able to get your point across clearly and concisely to stakeholders, no matter what the problem is. Attention to detail is important because we deal with a lot of numbers and documentation. One missed piece of information can be detrimental. When dealing with tenants, you must be empathetic of their personal financial situations. This will in turn show them that they are valued and will prove helpful in trying to accomplish a predetermined conclusion. My mother always told me “you get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.” Lastly, you must possess great negotiation skills. I constantly am trying to negotiate lease changing options with tenants or recover losses from them. Finding out how to best glean your desired outcome has proven to be a skill.
• Some of the job seekers and recent college graduates (with minimal to no experience) that I’ve coached, don’t know where to begin when it comes to networking. Do you have any useful tips to offer and potentially share a success story on how your experience in networking with professionals got you to where you are today?
It sounds cliché, but networking will honestly take you farther than any job application ever will. This means that building relationships across the industry whether small or large always has the potential to pay off. Remember that a relationship is not only what one can do for you, but what you can also bring to the table. For example, I attribute my success at Moody’s to networking. I knew from the get-go that I needed to form strong professional relationships with the people who had the power to bring me back. Establishing that I can do the work was half the battle. Networking and setting yourself apart from the rest are the other half.
• What advice would you give to those who are looking to advance in their finance career?
It is important to remember that like many other industries, Finance has hundreds of positions you can take on. I recommend doing lots of research and snagging as many internships as you can. This will give you firsthand experience and allow you to see what you like and do not like.
•What about those who are looking to switch their careers? (Let’s say someone who comes from Investment Banking or even another field outside of the financial sector and wants to go towards Accounting or Risk Management)
Let’s be honest, being young professionals, some of us do not know exactly what we want to do career-wise. This is totally fine. Everyone’s journey is different. There comes a time where you might want to switch careers. The best advice I can give when exploring a new route is take time to evaluate your strengths, characteristics, and interest. Once you have these mapped out, try, and find a career or job that will best compliment all of your listed attributes. Landing yourself somewhere where you can be yourself and apply your skills will produce your best work and will begin to give you a sense of belonging. Remember that it is a process. Most of us do not figure it out overnight. But, laying down the right framework for making your next move your best move will prove helpful in your journey.
If you feel inspired and motivated by James’ story, please feel free to reach out! He does not bite. He is always open to speaking with like-minded individuals and loves networking – a pro at it! Once you get to know James, you won’t regret it. He will be there in every step of your way to mentor/guide you on a both professional and personal level. Connect with James on LinkedIn.