Over the past year, I found myself under immense pressure (like most college kids) struggling throughout the process of applying for summer internships. What was already a competitive and sometimes cut-throat environment felt exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19. Eager to gain professional experience, and admittedly ensure there were no gaps in my resume, I found myself applying to over 50 internships. While I did end up securing an incredible internship opportunity that I was truly passionate about, I learned just as much, if not more about myself throughout the painstaking process of applying.
Everyone always warns to not fear rejection, but it’s undeniably difficult when you’re faced with the silent response of being “ghosted” by a potential employer. You begin to wonder, did they even read my application? However, through personal experience I’ve learned to recognize that rejection is not always a failure. Yes, there’s a certain pressure to gain internship experience, but having said that, there’s so much more to gain from the process of applying itself. When you stop placing so much emphasis on the goal of securing a job, but rather, focusing on professional and personal development, the measure of success is (relatively) limitless.
From my experience- every interview, informational session, professional connection, development essay, resume workshop, and research session represents an opportunity. Every time one of my applications was rejected I learned how I could go about making it better. Every time I interviewed but did not get the job I gained critical interview skills and practice in a real-life setting. Every time I did research on a company I was able to narrow my scope and decipher what my professional needs are. Every time I edited my resume I gathered knowledge on how to best market my skill sets. What I’m trying to say is that by refocusing your goals, or simply widening your scope, the internship application process becomes much less daunting than it originally seemed.
Even if you are faced with rejection, it doesn’t mean that you stand no chance of gaining professional experience. If anything, my experience with rejection encouraged me to take greater initiative and become more proactive in my roles. Student clubs and organizations, especially leadership positions, represent extraordinary opportunities to get involved and work on professional skills without needing an internship to do it. My involvement in student organizations flexed my writing/communication skills, strengthened my public speaking skills, allowed me to practice working alongside a team, and gave me perspective on what professional dependability looks like.
So don’t let one, or two, or three rejections get you down! Cast your net wide and never stop applying! Hopefully, your experience is similar to mine and you’ll be able to grow professionally both on and off the clock.