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Dealing with Internship Rejection 101

Getting rejected sucks. It doesn’t matter what form of rejection, whether it is a school, a person, or a job. It’s horrible. This semester I went to my advisor who told me to apply to any and every internship I was qualified for. “What’s the worst they can say? No?”

But the thing is, no is a very harsh word. And it’s hard to hear. So even though I may have gotten a couple of offers, the flood of rejections still sting. It makes me doubt myself — am I really qualified for anything?

It’s important to remember some things when you’re getting responses (or no responses) back:


1. You are qualified.

Maybe not for what you applied for, but for other things. Just because the ones you applied for said no, doesn’t mean that every single opening out there will. Maybe re-evaluate what sort of internships really align with your goals and experiences. It really comes through when you apply, and thus helps out more than anything else.

And maybe you are qualified for what you applied for. There are only a few internships available and almost everyone is applying for the same ones. It’s extremely competitive, and you shouldn’t let it get you down if you didn’t get it. And like my mom always says, if it’s meant to be, it will happen. Maybe it’s a good thing that you didn’t get it – the commute could have been horrible, the hours bad, the job something that you thought you wanted but later realized you don’t want it at all.  


2. It’s still early

There are still two months left until Summer, and thus two more months of sending out resumes and cover letters. Emailing companies directly for intern openings can help broaden your search and get into a direct line of contact with someone at the firm. This can prove to be useful, as even though they may not have any openings, they may know of some other openings that are related to what you want to do. This also opens up a line of contact. If the company is in the Boston area, it can lead to internships over the course of the year instead of during the summer.  


3. Think about volunteering

Volunteering positions aren’t as hard to obtain and (at least for me) easier to find. The majority of the hospitals and clinics that I was looking at for summer positions don’t have internships open, but rather volunteering positions. They’re easier to apply for and can bring about other opportunities throughout the summer. They’re also, most likely, more flexible, so you can volunteer for multiple organizations at the same time. There are plenty of opportunities for different fields, and even though it may not be directly related to your field, you can always (at a later date) try and spin your experience there to be relevant.


4. Think of it as a sign

These semesters are tough. Maybe you need a break to chill out and hang out with some of your friends back home and catch up on your (fun) reading. It’s important to remember that you won’t really get a time off like this after you graduate. So enjoy the time off, and just sit down and take a breather. You deserve it. You could even try travelling for a while and see some cool new places. It doesn’t even have to be far away from wherever you are. Take a car (yours or a ZipCar) and head out in the early morning and drive to somewhere close by. See new things, and experience where you came from in a different way.


5.  It’s okay to feel the rejection

Cry, whine, complain. Talk about how horrible everything is and how horrible being rejected is. Do something that you love to do, to work through whatever emotions you are feeling right now – bake, read, go for some retail therapy. Letting it out will help deal with the pain. Ignoring the pain just makes it worse, because you end up carrying it with you for a longer period of time. So let it out, and then let it go.


6. Don’t cry, whine and complain to those who rejected you

Instead, thank them for considering you. Open up that line of communication. Perhaps you can email them later on (next summer perhaps) for a job or an internship once again, referencing your previous application. Ask them for guidance on other options. If you’re nice, you’ll get a nice response.


7. Take some classes

If you’re Pre-med, like me, consider taking some EMT/CNA classes to get some certifications and build up your resume. Even taking classes at the local community college is a great way to productively use time over summer. And maybe, if you do enough, it could be enough to graduate early.


And if none of this helps, call up someone in your family or one of your friends, and ask them what to do. Maybe an opportunity can come through from someone closer to home.

Alizah Ali is a senior at BU. She's working on her biology-premed degree, which finds her often in the quietest parts of the library. She loves coffee and bunnies and running whenever the Boston weather lets her. She's a big advocate for mental health destigmatization and awareness. Follow her on instagram @lizza0419
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