Imposter syndrome can be a very real obstacle blocking you from living the life of your dreams. It’s the voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough and that it’s only a matter of time until everyone else finds out you’re a fraud. Keep reading for my top three tips to kick her to the curb.
Keep a record of your wins. Throughout my years as a student I talked openly and often about my failures. About the tests I surely must have failed or the class I had withdrawn from. I talked so often about my failures that I forgot to celebrate my successes and it led to the perception by some classmates and even myself that I wasn’t intelligent. Instead of focusing on your failures, make a literal record of all your wins. Write them in a notebook and when the voice in your head starts telling you that you aren’t good enough, go back and remember why you’re crushing life.
Know that you aren’t alone. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, I’m willing to bet most of us have experienced imposter syndrome at some point. Recognize that you’re much harder on yourself than anyone else is going to be. Give yourself a pep talk, acknowledge all the work you’ve done to get where you are, talk to your friends about their feelings of self-doubt and realize you’re not alone.
Realize that hard work will take you wherever you want to go. As I approached the beginning of grad school, intense waves of imposter syndrome came crashing into me. I remember telling my dad that I couldn’t understand why people thought I was so smart. I wasn’t smart I just worked really hard. My dad looked me dead in the face and said “Being smart and working hard are the same thing.” Since then I’ve never stopped believing that if you’re willing to put in the hard work, no dream will ever be out of reach. It doesn’t matter if you have the highest grades in the class or are the smartest person in the room. I truly believe that when you’re passionate about what you’re doing and willing to put in the hard work to get there, you have the keys to success in hand.
Do you have any tips to add to my list? Drop them in the comments and let me know what has worked for you!
I wanted to compile a short list of the top aerospace engineering programs in the United States. I’ve listed the top 5 here with their respective tuitions. Remember that this is not a comprehensive list and there are many great schools not listed here. Click the “full article” links on each category to see more options. Additionally, professionals working in the aerospace field can hold degrees in many other specializations like mechanical, chemical, electrical and software engineering, business, etc. Don’t let the dollar signs scare you as there are a multitude of scholarships, grants and other opportunities to help at least partially pay for school.
Further, as graduate school application season approaches, I’ve added the top aerospace graduate programs. I added a separate list for top online Master’s programs as many choose to pursue graduate programs while working a part or full-time job, and let’s not forget the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has brought this year.
Cost of enrollment for full-time graduate programs is highly dependent on whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student and whether or not you obtain funding through a grant, scholarship, graduate research assistantship (GRA), graduate teaching assistantship (GTA), or other similar funding source. If you are interested in external funding for your graduate degree, apply early!
California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
If you choose to pursue your advanced degree while working, check with your employer and see if they’ll fully or at least partially reimburse you for courses or degrees related to your job. This is a great added benefit many companies offer.
University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)
University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (Urbana, IL)
Wishing you fair winds and following seas wherever your journey takes you.
That’s one small step towards my childhood dream. In 2016 a record-setting 18,300+ people applied to be an astronaut. NASA chose 12. How do you like those .066% odds? This year, even with the additional requirement of a Master’s degree, NASA still received over 12,000 applications. One of them was mine. I think this may just be the most competitive job in the universe! Since the application changed a little bit this year, I thought I’d share with you what the application looked like.
Part 1: Build Resume in USAJOBS
This is probably one of the most time consuming parts of the application and can be quite frustrating. Although USAJOBS has an option to import your resume, for certain postings it requires you to use the USAJOBS Resume Builder. This is one of those positions. You will be required to manually enter each of your professional experiences individually and select whether you’d like to allow them to reach out to your supervisor. I would suggest that you only say yes if you are sure they’ll remember you and/or you’ve let them know you put them down. I felt like this process made it a bit difficult to set yourself apart from the crowd, but then again, I’m sure there are others who felt that way as well.
Part 2: Upload Required Transcripts
It’s a good idea to keep electronic copies of your college transcripts on hand because you never know when you’ll need them (ex. job applications, professional certifications like the P.E., etc). In addition to your USAJOBS resume, you will also have to upload and submit transcripts for all degrees you want credit for. If you do not upload these transcripts or other required documents as listed in the job posting, you will likely be disqualified right off the bat. You are not required to upload official transcripts but keep in mind that if selected, you will be required to provide official transcripts.
Part 3: Qualifying Questions
Just when you think you’ve completed the application and say to yourself “Wow, that was surprisingly simple” you submit and are routed to the agency specific section. Don’t worry, this isn’t difficult either. You’ll be asked questions that help further determine if you meet the basic requirements of the job listing and whether you understand the risks of the job, etc.
Part 4: Assessment
The assessment is something new this year. Within about 30 minutes of submitting the application, you will receive a link to the assessment which needs to be completed within 48 hours of the application closing. The assessment contains three parts and it is recommended to take the entire thing in one sitting but you can save it and come back if you’d like. The assessment is management by OPM (Office of Personnel Management), the federal agency responsible for managing the government’s civilian workforce.
Assessment #1: Work Experience Assessment. This one is not timed and about 25 multiple choice questions. The questions ask things like “When asked, your supervisor would explain your work style as” and then gives you a number of choices.
Assessment #2: OPM Essay Test. You will be given 25 minutes to write an essay which the system says will be graded by computer. The prompt I was given related to writing about the pros and cons to a particular subject. Astronauts are often the face of NASA and human spaceflight so I presume this is supposed to assess whether you are able to communicate effectively.
Assessment #3: Work Styles Assessment. This one felt like it went on and on…and on. It is non-timed and forces you to select one of two given options related to what describes you better in a work situation. Sometimes this is incredibly difficult as I often felt like neither choice applied to me and they both sounded like negative attributes to have! The ones I remember most were related to how you react to being stressed at work or how you feel when others at work are stressed out.
A helpful note is that once you have submitted your application, you are able to re-enter the system and make changes up until the application closes. Start your application early because it will likely take you longer to complete than you expect.
The selection process takes the agency approximately one year to complete and NASA plans to announce its next astronaut class sometime during early Summer 2021. I’ve heard a good sign that you may have made it into the running for the final interview round is if you hear that your references have been contacted.
For astronaut selection criteria and tips, click here to read my previous blog post. This post outlines the minimum requirements for NASA astronaut selection.