Professionally Rejected: How I Stay Motivated While Job Hunting
I am no stranger to the following: “We are sorry to inform you…” “We thank you for your application…” “We decided to go another direction.” Professional rejection has plagued my internship search for three years, pre-pandemic to today. The long-awaited email I hope to be congratulatory always seems to end in rejection.
For the past year and a half, I’ve been rejected, not once, not twice, but four times from the same company. In my mind, I always try to find something wrong with my application. Hateful things ran through my mind like “you don’t have a high enough GPA” or “you don’t go to the right school”, or even worse “why would they want you, you’re not even qualified.” Meticulously scanning over my countless resumes and cover letters, I always try to find something wrong with my wording, wondering what went wrong.
As a hopeful and eager student ready to get experience in the real world before graduation, I am in endless search of internships in the publishing industry. The already small industry is limited to what we call the “Big 5” publishing houses, such as HarperCollins and Penguin Random House. Despite applying for internships to all five companies, I’ve been rejected by all of them. My future seems to grow a bit dimmer each time one of those disappointing messages appears on my computer screen, making my hopes and dreams die just a bit more.
Rejection after rejection, I’ve almost become numb to them. The unopened email waits for me in my inbox still, sitting there waiting to be trashed. Even after being ghosted by a recruiter, I know the sting of not knowing why I wasn't good enough for the entry-level role.
I turned from criticizing myself to finding ways to stay motivated in the daunting job hunt ahead. Relying on the dream of my childhood dream of reading for the rest of my life. Since I was a kid I wanted a job where I could do something centered around books. Now, 21-years-old about to graduate in the middle of a bad job market and the ongoing pandemic (like I need the reminder), I am going to remain hopeful and persevere against rejection.
I know I am not alone in this. Even you, sitting there reading this article right now have probably experienced some type of rejection after sending in an application or being interviewed with so much hope. Whether applying for a part-time job, internship, or your first full-time position, we are subject to professional rejection, and often without any reason or justification.
The pandemic hasn’t proved helpful in that realm either. The multitude of remote positions in the COVID-19 role opened opportunities for me that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I was pumped about the idea of interning remotely for companies based in New York City, but with the circumstances of the publishing industry and COVID, I wasn’t the only one trying to make my dreams come true.
When I would receive a rejection email or notification, the HR department or interviewer wouldn’t give any reason as to why I wasn't the right person for the job. I am the one always creating a reason for myself as to why I wasn’t perfect for the role.
And you know what that is?
We shouldn’t be tearing ourselves down because of job rejections. They are bound to happen when not hundreds, but thousands, of people, are applying for the same position. It’s bound to happen when recruiters select from the first few good applications and from that application pool. It’s bound to happen when you have the biggest dreams and the smallest chances of the opportunity.
Know your worth. You are a talented, eager, motivated, and qualified individual more than capable of working at your dream company and role. Life’s pattern of rejection will continue to stand in your way, but that doesn’t mean you can stand in the way of your passion.
Be resilient, apply for that role until you get it, and remain relentless. I promise the right role will come your way and the opportunities will come soon.
I’ve come to realize that yes, maybe I didn’t say exactly what they wanted to know about me in my cover letter. Maybe I didn’t have the experience they were looking for. But I know what they are missing out on. I know that with every rejection email, I grow stronger in confidence and hunger for my future.
Rejection can crush you unless you rise above it. Don’t let the job hunt rip your dreams away. Instead, remain determined and continue to apply for every opportunity, because one day, “we regret to inform you” will transform into a congratulatory email asking “when can you start?”.