Overcoming Impostor Syndrome through Community
Carina Axelbrooke - Front End Engineer a Creatps
I grew up in Seattle but was always fascinated by Japan, so I moved out there a few years ago. There is so much to love about it. I love their sense of tradition and the respect they give to people that they don’t know. Japanese people always put others before themselves. If they have to give up a luxury or freedom for the greater good of the general public, they willingly oblige. Even though there are great qualities about the United States, it’s very individualistic. The social system in the US needs to become stronger because right now opportunities only end up in the hands of a few privileged people.
While studying business administration and information systems at the University of Washington, I had to take development and database classes for credit. I realized engineering allowed me to make things that people could use, and that made me fall in love with front-end development. I realized that people would be using my creation, and that’s what made me love design.
I was a front-end engineer at Disney for a while before moving out to Japan to work for Creatps. I’ve been the only woman on every team that I have worked on. On top of that, I didn’t have any female mentors to talk to about my experiences. Reading blogs and reaching out to the online community made me realize that other women face impostor syndrome too, and that helped me cope with it. When I was learning Java, my mentor would always say things like “Why don’t you know this?” or “Why don’t you understand that?” when I made mistakes. It took me a while to realize that he had been a developer for 20 years, while I only had six months under my belt. I was disheartened and doubted myself for a while, but I was able to use that criticism constructively and now try to mentor women around me who are new to the industry. I have a friend who is going through the same thing, and I always tell her that she can’t be expected to be perfect at something that she’s never done before.