This is a guest post from our current campus ambassador Alexandra Abel. Alex is a junior at Binghamton University, majoring in English Literature & Rhetoric & minoring in Spanish.
Rejection hurts. You’ve heard it before. You’ll hear it a million times. But what about when it actually happens to you? Definitely one of those phrases that’s easier said than done. Whether it is a relationship, a sports team, or an internship, rejection is never fun. But like anything with a little practice, you might even get good at it.
When rejection hits, and it will hit, the sting might burn- especially for those who are used to getting everything they strive for. But rejection doesn’t have to be an evil monster that pushes you down the mountain you want to climb. Use it as motivation to hold your flag even higher. It will be that much more rewarding when you get to plant it at the top.
I think what makes this post special is that I have used my rejections to push me to write it. Still searching for that summer internship, I am starting to become a pro on what rejection feels like. Putting so much time and effort into your dream internship and then having someone say no is definitely not on my spring semester to-do list. But I have to say in retrospect these rejections are making me stronger. (Not that I want them to keep coming summer employers!) But in all honesty, as much as it hurts to get that e-mail, it doesn’t mean it is all over. There is an internship out there for you, just like I know there has to be one out there for me. In the meantime, check out my tips for what to do when that dreadful rejection may come your way.
1) Cry. It may seem a little strange after that little pep talk on becoming stronger, but I promise this is an essential first step. Have you ever seen that episode of Gilmore Girls when Dean and Rory break up? Well just incase you haven’t, (sorry I’m an addict) Rory goes about pretending like it never happened and refuses to wallow. But not dealing with the pain doesn’t go over too well and where does she end up at the end? On the couch watching old movies with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s to catch her tears. Now, you don’t have to cry if you don’t want to, but this is just my way of saying that it’s okay. Don’t feel ashamed, rejection hurts and it’s good to let that out. Cry a little, call a friend (or your mom), watch a good episode of Pretty Little Liars and get back on your feet. You’re going to be okay!
2) Stay in touch. When you get rejected you may think you could never work there again. If you weren’t good enough this time, why would you be another time? You may also be seething in anger. If they rejected you, why would you want to send them a nice reply? But really, you must think again! When I received one of my rejection letters, my prospective employer encouraged me to apply again for the fall, winter, or spring semesters. I was devastated, but these companies receive a plethora of applications for the summer, sometimes for just 1 or 2 spots. So when it happens, just add that person to your list. Build your network. Ask them if they know anyone else in the media world, being the superstar editor or publicist that they are. If they do, that’s great. And if they don’t, don’t forget them. Add them to your little black book for the next internship season. Send them an update every once in awhile about what you’re doing. People in the media world know other people in the media world. And if you swallow your pride and turn rejection into a positive, they’ll feel the glow and maybe send some warmth back in return.
3) List time. That’s right I know all you power girls and guys out there love your lists. So here’s the time to make a new one! Lauren always suggests applying to at least 20 internships for the summer. So now’s the time to pick your 20. When you put it into perspective, being rejected by 2 or 3 internships out of 20 really isn’t a lot. (And I promise I’m not even that good at statistics.) Each rejection may feel like a ton of bricks but in the grand scheme of things there is way more out there than just those 2 or 3. Right? Right. (Just reassuring myself at the same time.) So get out your favorite pen, search your favorite web sites (like Intern Queen) and pick about 18 more internships that you could see yourself at. Contact and follow up with any previous contacts from past internships or meetings. Met someone at a random gathering that you think could help? Do your parents know anyone in a similar business? It’s time to pull out all the stops. Write every one down and email them all. As of now, there’s nothing to lose and so much to gain.
So while rejection hurts, and may continue to hurt, it’s not the end of the road. Stay as positive as you can, take some time and get back on that internship bandwagon. Play in the mud, do some finger painting, whatever it takes to soothe your soul and remind you why you’re special- because you are the only one who has the power to determine that. Sometimes rejection can even help by lighting some sparks behind you and fueling up your fire. Just stay focused and motivated. You never know when you’ll catch that lucky star.