As recruiting season begins for many 2021 internships and entry-level jobs, college students all over UIC and across the country get ready to prove their skills to companies and hope they land a shot to get their foot in the door. Nonetheless, it doesn’t always work out. Here’s why it’s perfectly okay.
At the start of September, I came across an email from the UIC Career Center. It mentioned an upcoming informational event with an international Fortune 100 company, an American staple. Originally, I didn’t plan on attending, since a role at the company seemed too big of a dream to achieve. Nevertheless, I decided to attend. I was pleasantly surprised with the employment opportunities they had to offer. The hiring managers and current workers’ experiences encouraged me to apply. So, an informational event later, I applied and surprisingly received an email, asking to set up an interview. I couldn’t believe it, they actually thought I was impressive enough for an interview?! Of course, I bombed the interview. I was hit with one curveball after another and ended the video conference with no hopes for a response. Yet, to my surprise, I managed to secure a second interview and even a third one! To say I was in heaven is an understatement.
I couldn’t believe a company as big as this one was actually interested in me, someone with little corporate experience, who’s major is completely unrelated to business. Surprisingly, everything was going extremely well. During the last interview, I learned about salary, travel for work opportunities, and how they could help me grow in my career. I ended the call excited to hear back regarding next steps, as well as a date for a final interview where I would have the opportunity to showcase my abilities with them, firsthand on a field day. The wait felt eternal, I checked my emails daily, hourly, in hopes of any sort of follow-up. As desperate as I was, I sent an email to follow up and received a dreaded “we’ll get back to you soon.” I couldn’t believe it. Was I getting ghosted? Did I not have the qualifications and skills necessary for the job? What did I do wrong? Did I say something wrong in my last interview?
Finally, after almost three weeks and 2 follow up emails later (I know, TWO! Maybe that was the problem, too many emails), I received a much-awaited answer that I already knew was coming: a rejection. Opening the “we’re sorry to inform you” was like a bullet to the chest. As much as I anticipated the rejection, I didn’t want to face it. Nothing could truly prepare me for it. I felt extremely disappointed in myself. It was as if I was getting on a roller coaster, only for the ride to get stuck on the way to the top. Of course, there were so many self-doubts. What did I lack that others had? Am I not as smart or hardworking as the other candidates? In that low moment of exhaustion and disappointment, I came to realize I am more than enough. I, a first-generation Latina, with no connections, landed not one, not two, but three interviews with one of the biggest brands in America. That was an accomplishment within itself! I didn’t need their offer to tell me that I am “successful”, because being the first in my family to even attend college, against all odds, proves I am successful. I realized that one rejection doesn’t define the rest of my job search because the right company that will recognize what I have to offer.
As a Latina, the imposter syndrome is real. Many times, it felt like I wasn’t up to par with fellow candidates. But my experiences of navigating so many challenges to even interview made me realize that I am enough. So, I realized if a hiring manager doesn’t think you’re a good candidate, it’s the perfect time to meditate on why you are and what you have to offer them. Don’t think of the company providing benefits to you, but as to what you can provide to the organization. And as cliché as it sounds, take this as a learning experience. You’ve gained hiring practice, which is always helpful! Lastly, if you were able to get selected for an interview (or 3) amongst hundreds of resumes, you definitely did have enough to impress them. Remember the experiences you have, the accomplishments you’ve made, and the skills you possess. One rejection doesn’t mean you’re not a great candidate and there’s always going to be something better ahead.