150+ rejections to my dream job (Perspectives from a new grad)

  1. The 50th rejection hurt much more than the 1st one. I thought by then, I’d have found something. I kept sitting there waiting for the rejection to make sense, but it just kept tasting bitter. The key? Sit with it. In the silence that follows rejection, there’s a small gap between where you were before and who you are now. It can be as subtle as a mood change and a shift in perspective. Whatever it is for you, it was alienating, chaotic, and ultimately, transformative for me. I felt numb at first. How many nos before a yes? When does the yes actually mean “yes”? But, the cool thing about failure: you get to assign meaning to it. Failure only stays failure if you let it haunt you.
  2. Respect yourself and others enough to walk away when it’s not right. I got really desperate sometimes. I wanted to give an answer to all the people hungrily waiting for news about a new development in the job search. At times I got so desperate I started applying to jobs I either knew I was overqualified for, or wouldn’t be happy doing. But, I need to survive capitalism, right? I got callbacks for those safe jobs I applied to, but it didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to be that person who spent their life hating their job, waiting for the next weekend or holiday break to finally feel happy, and then come back to an unfulfilling work. So, I walked away. It took a lot of bravery, though. Keep betting on yourself.
  3. Your failure is valuable. Leverage it as currency. I’m not going to launch into a clichéd spiel about how all greats had to fail before they got there (it’s true, but you’ve heard it enough times by now, I’m sure). At certain points, I let failure bully me into cowardice. I shrunk away, shied away, disappeared for a summer, because I couldn’t bear to say that I don’t know what the next step is. I got tired of repeating myself. But, you are the protagonist of your story. It got worse for me before it got better. Each failure was a friend that taught me something of value. It hurt, but it made me get better. My resumé was shiny at the end of all of this, because it’d been picked apart a million and a half times by recruiters and hiring managers.
  • Managers like hearing you reflect on failure. At least, in my experience. It shows value, critical thought, humility, and willingness/flexibility to grow. Don’t get stuck at failure and let that make you stagnant. The world goes on, so do we.
  • At the end of my job hunting cycle, I was interviewing with three of my top choices. I say this not to brag, just to demonstrate that there is so much potential and goodness after and during failure. Don’t let failure get too loud. The noise doesn’t last.

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