Workforce Week: How One Job Seeker Beat ‘Imposter Syndrome’ to Succeed as an Engineer

A Workday employee shares his experience dealing with imposter syndrome, and how his opportunity with Year Up, a track within our Opportunity Onramps program, changed his life.

Workforce Week is our largest week of global volunteering at Workday and has one mission: to help close the opportunity gap. All around the world, typically during May, many of our employees spend an hour or so mentoring job seekers who face barriers to landing well-paying jobs.

As part of our fifth annual Workforce Week in the Bay Area, May 6-10, employees worked with students from Workday Foundation grantee and nonprofit partner Year Up. We discussed career paths, hosted mock interviews and provided feedback, reviewed resumes, and helped build LinkedIn profiles for the students.

Year Up provides internships to talented and motivated, yet underserved, young adults aged 18 to 24 across the United States to help them launch their careers. At Workday, Year Up interns join us through our Opportunity Onramps program, with many going on to be hired as Workday employees.

One of those employees is Jesus Lopez. In a personal essay Lopez shared with us, he talks about imposter syndrome, juggling multiple jobs while trying to help his family pay the bills, and how an opportunity with Year Up at Workday changed his life.

Jesus Lopez’s Story

My name is Jesus Lopez, and I’m an associate quality assurance engineer at Workday.

It’s no secret that imposter syndrome is real. But for people like me who don’t have a traditional four-year college degree, working in the technology sector can cause symptoms of the syndrome to flare up pretty regularly.

Just two years ago, I was a full-time college student and working two retail jobs. My dad was sick, and my family and I were trying to find ways to come up with the money for bills, rent, and his medical costs. At this point in my life, I felt completely lost and unmotivated, and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I needed an opportunity.

Somehow, I found myself standing in the welcome circle on my first day as part of the Year Up program at Workday. And while we were asked to spit out our professional introductions as part of the newest cohort of Year Up students, I kept thinking to myself, “Do I really have what it takes? Am I really doing the right thing?”

Born and raised in the Bay Area, I come from a big family and an incredibly hardworking and supportive mom. Her work ethic is one of the characteristics I admire most about her. When my siblings and I were little, she’d wake us up at 4 a.m. to drop us off at our aunt’s house while she went to work, and she wouldn’t get back until late.

But when it came to getting an education, school was hard for me — and a traditional four-year college degree wasn’t right for me at that point. I was working two jobs while taking classes at community college when a friend told me about a program called Year Up that helps young adults get lasting jobs in tech. When I first heard about Year Up, I honestly thought it was a scam. A year-long tech training program where you’re paid to go to class for professional training and then receive a paid internship with a major tech company? It felt too good to be true.

It wasn’t the first time I was wrong. I could tell within my first few weeks at Year Up that this program was truly going to challenge me — push me to new boundaries and make me uncomfortable, but in the end, make me a better all-around person.

And if I’m speaking honestly, it was intimidating. Between little things like my heart dropping whenever I was asked to speak publicly to lacking confidence that I truly fit in (and that I could graduate from the program), Year Up challenged every bone in my body. But with that challenge came real growth, something I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Mom Is Always Right

As part of the Year Up program, I entered the tech training track focused on quality assurance, and after six months of classroom training, I was invited to interview at a company called Workday for my internship placement. I joined Workday as part of the Opportunity Onramps Year Up program in a quality assurance (QA) position, and my journey as a Workmate (what we call our coworkers here at Workday) started there.

I have always thrived with change and spontaneity, and it reflected in my background and my career choice. The reason why I like QA is because I love a challenge. Every day, I’m learning something new — from exploring and understanding our software to making sure we are delivering quality products to our customers. I also get to work and collaborate with amazing Workmates who are willing to stop what they’re doing to help me when I need it.

Even with my confidence growing each day with both my learnings from Year Up and from my fellow Workmates, I couldn’t help but think that I had to prove that I deserved to be here — and that I could get this job done. I needed to prove that I deserved to sit next to a Workmate who graduated from a Cornell or a Stanford. In moments like this, I just think of my mom. I remember how much she supports me, and how badly she wants to see me succeed. I think of her work ethic, and the lesson she taught me from an early age: work hard, and prove your worth.

With time, my team has become a huge part of my success at Workday. And soon, I realized how unwarranted my imposter syndrome truly was because they never made me feel like I didn’t belong.

When I look at what defines who I am today, I always go back to a few things:

I value family. First and foremost, I’m a son, a brother, a cousin, and a friend. I am where I am today because of my mom and my family. I work hard to help support my family, and I’m grateful for the support my family continues to provide me on this journey.

I value opportunity. Like many other people, I didn’t have access to a traditional four-year degree. But I’m smart. I work hard. I have proved and I will continue to prove my worth. When the door to opportunity opened through Year Up and Workday, I saw what was in front of me, and I seized the opportunity.

I accept challenges. It’s intimidating to feel like you don’t belong, or you don’t deserve what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. But that’s another thing that I’ve learned about myself: I don’t back down from challenges. If it makes me uncomfortable, I’m growing.

I’m Jesus Lopez. I’m a graduate of Year Up, and I’m a proud Workmate.

Learn more about our passion for workforce development and the Opportunity Onramps movement.

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