My Journey into the Tech Ecosystem by Yusun Ingoshi
Definitions based on the online Meriam Webster Dictionary.
Skinny-dipping — “To swim in the nude”
Tech (abbr.) — “The use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems”
Here’s the thing about skinny-dipping, you are vulnerable to all the elements around you. You allow yourself to be exposed, not just physically, but emotionally. I had been dipping my toes in different fields with my previous internships, yet I chose to dive into the uncharted world of tech without a second thought. What’s more, my old friend “Mr. Imposter Syndrome” was squatting with me for the first three months; a thorn in my side.
You’d think I should have figured out what I wanted to do with my life before I graduated. Considering that I was an English Lit. Major with a minor in Professional Writing, there seemed to be an infinite pool of fields I could dip my toes in. But after 3 years of non-stop studying, I was drained and in need of a pause before I plunged into the working world.
Completing my undergrad studies meant that I had two options:
- Get a job and build my skills.
- Apply for my masters.
These were the two options I had revolving in mind. Taking on the 3 internships over summer was overwhelming, but I thought I owed it to myself to beef up my CV sooner rather than later. I put equal effort in every task I undertook, managed my time well to catch up on my studies, and thought long and hard on what I wanted to do once I graduated.
My mind was racing as the days closed in. Part of me knew I needed to breathe, take the much deserved break from all the reading and working, yet the other part of me was scared of drowning in student loans — a fear many of us unfortunately have. I knew I had to make a decision before August ended.
As if on cue, I received an email from Concordia University’s Humanities Plus’s coordinator for a Marketing Intern position with Montreal NewTech in the last week of July, and I had a day to send in my CV if I wanted to be considered for the position. At first, I laughed out loud at the way things had turned out and then, I thought long and hard for a few hours and decided that I could manage taking on another job right after my last internship.
Feeling burnt out was the least of my worries, considering that the pandemic had caused the job market to constantly fluctuate. I chose not to be picky about the blessings that came my way. Besides the shadows of doubt I had, I knew I could do well once I put my mind to it.
The waters I was treading were dark, unfamiliar, and scary. I felt like a gold fish in saltwater; struggling to survive and forgetting every three seconds what I needed to do. It was mental torture.
Although the Montreal NewTech team and startup ecosystem were welcoming, their encouragement of me to be more innovative, proactive, and daring created a sense or nervousness in my ability to live up to their expectations. I was hired as a marketing coordinator and that meant managing social media platforms, keeping the community engaged, and creating content for events we hosted.
Now, I knew I was good with words, my degree says it all, but I was dry of content whenever it came to wrapping my mind around my new bff tech and all its other relatives. I could not, for the life of me, make sense of all the terms and concepts required to be the marketing guru they needed me to be. Maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew.
How do you tell your manager that you cannot function? That the intern they hired was broken, sorry, malfunctioning as the codes to her creative juices were incomplete? The “how” was not important, it’s the “why” that mattered most.
Why was I not performing as I knew I could? My old friend, Mr. Imposter Syndrome, had all the answers to this, of course. He was loud, egotistical, and blatant when he repeated like a broken record the long list of reasons why I was not suitable for my job.
Here are but a brutal few:
- You are not creative enough, scratch that, at all.
- Your degree does not mean shit in this field.
- Your opinion does not really matter.
- You can only work under supervision.
- You are clearly burnt out and working on fumes (I agree with this one)
- You do not belo —
OK, I GET THE POINT!
I was constantly having a battle each morning on whether or not I should show up for work. I played different scenarios in my mind that could guarantee me a day off or probably get me fired, but unfortunately for me, it was not in my nature to give in to negativity. There had to be a silver lining in all of this as I am here today, seven months into my internship and writing this article to share with all of you.
The silver lining that allowed me to keep my ducks in a row was simple; I held myself accountable for my actions in every way possible. Being the perfectionist and overachiever that I am, I knew I would sink into the abyss of self-loathing if I did not have someone I could confide in.
The beauty of having a team that pushes you to the limit is that we are all aware of the pressures that could break us.
My survival thus far is thanks to my decision to confide in my direct manager, Simran Kanda; a beautiful and wholesome human being whose talents surpass her age. Beyond being my manager, she is a friend who allowed me to always account for the progress I had made and reminded me to PRIORITIZE my tasks. Her ability to de-escalate the teams’ worries and clear the path for what needs to be done are impeccable.
Moreover, knowing that getting into the tech world is not easy, I took it upon myself to learn more about my role. I may be good with words, but the ever changing social media universe always kept me on my toes. Imposter syndrome was a given considering I was in a new field, so I had to evolve with the ecosystem I found myself in. I needed to learn to float before I could swim.
Here are a few things I did to realign myself:
- I signed up for classes on HubSpot and Udemy — Currently certified for Social Media and taking on a Copywriting certification!
- I noted down the kind of tasks I liked doing and asked my manager to incorporate them into my role — Joined the Operations team!
- I accepted criticism and allowed myself to fail — Try everything until you get what works for you!
- I gave myself time to grow into my role — You cannot have it all figured out in the first month!
- I trusted in the development of my abilities — Still a working progress, but better than giving up!
I am seven months into my internship and finally working on an article I could have shared months ago. The list of things I told myself I needed to do are finally taking shape because I grabbed a hold of the slimy branch that brushed against my side and chose not to let go.
It was scary admitting that I was drowning, that I needed help to make sense of my tasks, and that I was not sure if I was right for the job. It was even scarier accepting that regardless of how I felt, or what Mr. Imposter Syndrome said, I had planted my feet in the waters I thought would sweep me away.
Now, I will not say everything is 100% and smooth running as you read this, but I do know there is room for growth if I choose to take more accountability of my actions, be more honest with myself, and let the team see the real me — the me who is constantly freaking out but learning to breathe and get things done.