Imposters Syndrome in MBAs By Priyanshi Singh

Imposters Syndrome in MBAs

By Priyanshi Singh 

The weight of imposter syndrome can be soul-crushing. Especially, when numerous MBA application deadlines are nearing. The overshadowing worry you feel that you are not worthy to be accepted into business school is real. The good news is that this feeling of self-doubt is temporary and is often accompanied by a new role or an achievement.

Feeling like an imposter is a common feeling for many. And it’s especially common amongst minority students. The feeling of imposter syndrome is based on that “you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or qualifications,” 

Brandon Monteith, a Harvard Business School alum, says he felt imposter syndrome throughout business school, despite being admitted to one of the top MBA programs in the world. He wrote about his experience with imposter syndrome for Forbes and offered a few tips for overcoming it.

“I was anxious—doing my best to defy my introverted tendencies, impress admissions officers, and make lasting connections with my cohort,” Monteith writes. “As I looked around, I just knew that I didn’t measure up. I was an imposter. This was a feeling I couldn’t shake even after I was admitted to HBS. Even after I worked through hundreds of case studies, passed exams, and walked across the graduation stage last May.


Many feel imposter syndromes because they look around and don’t see others who look like them or have come from the same experiences as they have. And while this may contribute to feeling as if you don’t belong, Montieth says, being yourself is actually one of the best ways to overcome imposter syndrome.  

“Don’t try to fit the mold of who you think the archetypal ‘HBS student’ or ‘Kellogg student’ is,” Monteith writes. “Admissions officers have amassed a pretty large sample size at this point. They can tell the difference between genuine and feigned behaviour.”


It’s important, Monteith says, to keep an open mind throughout B-school – from exploring potential careers to engaging with others.

“As you explore post-graduation career paths, don’t limit yourself to what you wrote in your essays,” Monteith writes. “Have in-depth conversations with classmates from different backgrounds. Take classes outside of your comfort zone. Life may take you down a completely unexpected career path.”


For those suffering with imposter syndrome, it may feel like there is nobody who looks like you or understands your experiences. Despite this difficulty, Monteith says, it’s worth taking the time to learn the culture of your B-school and, ultimately, find your people.

“Every school has its own culture. Even if your personal values don’t perfectly align with those of your classmates and/or the administration, learn how to navigate it effectively,” he writes. “Lean on your community for support and become friends with people from your respective affinity clubs on campus. This is where you’ll find your ‘ride-or-dies’ for when times get tough.”

Today, psychologists estimate that 70% of people will experience these feelings at some point in their career, regardless of how successful they are. And taking time out of work to study an MBA doesn't offer any respite. With heavy workloads, constant deadlines, and a competitive environment made up of professionals at the top of their game, it's a shadow that irks many a student.  When experienced for an extended period of time, the effects of impostor syndrome can have a profound effect on your academic and professional life.

There are enough people in the world who will choose to put you down, do not let your self-imposed imposter syndrome do the job for them. The awards selection committees that presented you that award in college or at work did not make a mistake granting you that achievement. They saw something in you that you may have yet to recognize in yourself. Realize that your imposter syndrome is well earned – it’s a win!


Priyanshi  Singh  MBA (HR) 

Manager HR

AirCrews Aviation Pvt. Ltd. 

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