From the start, my senior year of college has been both exhilarating and terrifying. On the one hand, I feel like I’m ready to be on my own; I want my own apartment, a dog, and to not be constantly drowning in school work. On the other hand, I don’t feel like I’m ready for the amount of responsibility being an adult will bring, and, most importantly, I don’t have any sort of plan for after graduation.
Being the type-A person that I am, I immediately came into my senior year ready to solve that pesky problem of not having a plan for post-grad life. I figured I’d get a job by the end of September, find a roommate by the end of October, and have an apartment lined up by the end of the Fall Semester. Simple, right?
Needless to say, things didn’t go exactly as planned. I must have applied for about 25-50 jobs right out of the gate. Some gave me first round interviews, and I even got to the second round of interviews with a number of companies. However, in the end I didn’t end up getting any of those initial 25-50 jobs that I applied for.
I had always known that if my plan didn’t work out I wouldn’t be happy, but I definitely wasn’t ready for the amount of rejection that I received during this process. I thought my resume was pretty strong; I had 5 internships under my belt, leadership positions for all 4 years of college, and experience with an array of graphics software. I had gotten every internship that I had applied for, and everyone told me that my interviewing skills were strong. So what had gone wrong?
Although I knew that this was somewhat typical for college grads (or almost grads) trying to find a job, it still took me quite a while to bounce back. But in the process, I definitely learned some lessons about dealing with job-related rejection.
Don’t waste time dwelling on the rejection
It’s easy to get caught up in your emotions and spend time moping about being rejected. However, wallowing doesn’t change anything, in fact, it can even make things worse. Spending time feeling down prevents you from using that time to search for a new opportunity, and it can even make you overly cautious when the time comes to interview again. During the interview, you need to exude confidence and enthusiasm for the job, and you can’t do this if you’re constantly second-guessing your own abilities because of past rejections. So although it’s natural to feel disappointed when you receive a rejection, don’t let it dictate how you feel for too long.
Don’t ignore the rejection
My first reaction to rejection letters was definitely to trash them and try to forget that they ever happened. However, rejection gives you an opportunity to ask for feedback. For example, one recruiter told me that although I interviewed well, I didn’t seem to get along with the other candidates. If I had trashed the email instead of asking for feedback, I would have never have known that employers look to see how you interact with the other candidates when you’re interviewing, and would be making that mistake with other companies today.
Rejection also gives you the opportunity to reflect on the process. What do you felt went well? What went poorly? I find that often your gut instinct about situations is right; if you felt that you did poorly on an interview because you looked unprepared, then you probably did! Instead of feeling bad for yourself, try and use this to plan for the next opportunity.
Start working on Plan B
There’s no better way to get over rejection than to move on and start working on something new. Putting your energy into searching for a new opportunity not only helps you to move forward with your goals, it also helps you to move past the rejection by getting excited about something else. Maybe your heart was really set on the company that rejected you, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better job out there! Get out there and start looking for a different opportunity; odds are you’ll find something that’s actually a better fit.
Catharine Gaylord || Wayne Office