Rejection. Don’t let it consume you!
I think it goes without saying that perhaps one of the hardest things to master in life is how to deal with adversity and more specifically rejection. Why is rejection so hard to master? Well, in my opinion, it is because it always feels a little personal, and it also is ego shattering (and MBA students tend to have normal to large sized egos J — it’s part of our DNA!). As a result in life, we tend to gravitate towards things that make us feel comfortable and/or happy, and rejection is neither of those things. In fact, I think most people tend to actively do as much as possible to avoid the potential opportunities to be rejected. So why am I focusing on rejection this week?
Because it is important to realize the danger that rejection has on the next few weeks of your life after each time it happens. This is especially important during both the job and internship search (and perhaps your romantic life – perhaps some of the lessons today can assist with that but I am no dating expert!). You cannot let rejection discourage you from continuing to do all things you should be doing as you prepare for the next application or the next interview that you have.
I won’t lie or attempt to dissuade you that rejection is not a good feeling; and it seems to suck even more especially after great interviews, when you felt that things were finally going to happen for you. So I wanted to share today some thoughts about what you can do to help mitigate the effects that rejection can have on you, because you do need to be in a good mood and frame of mind during your job/internship search, no matter how long it lasts. Do not let despair or rejection settle in, because then you will never succeed!
Speaking from my personal experience over the past 3 months, here is what I suggest you do:
1) Have an immediate remedy: As soon as you get the phone call or email, find something FUN to do. It can be going to the gym to work off the anger, having a few adult beverages, talking to your best friend(s), playing a video game, doing homework, etc. It doesn’t matter what the activity is. You know yourself best, and I urge you to spend time right away putting yourself in a better frame of mind. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but try to relax and have fun (and not think about the rejection – there will be time late for that). For now your goal should be getting back to a state of equilibrium. Also note that for some people this might be 15 minutes long, others, it might take a day or two. Just try to avoid thinking about the WHY for as long as possible until you are ready for it.
2) Introspection: When you are ready, sit down and review what you did and didn’t do. Maybe as mentioned before, you did everything you could, and were great, but if that’s not the case, take notes of what could go better. Be honest with yourself and with the process. After all, if you don’t learn from your mistakes how can you improve? Don’t be too hard on yourself, after all the job search has parts that you can influence and others you cannot. Reach out and see if you can get some direct feedback in regards to your candidacy.
3) Psych yourself back up!: Similar to step 1, start finding ways you can get excited about another possibility or opportunity. Remember that you make your own opportunities in life, and while a door may close, there is always another that can be found. The luxury of today’s business world is that we are not expected to stay at one job for the next 35 years of our life. Things are always in flux and you do not know when someone might leave their job that they disliked but that you will love. In addition, keep an open mind to new opportunities and experiences as they will in a worst case scenario impart onto you new knowledge and experiences that you can then learn from and use in the future.
I know rejection is not easy. I struggled with it at times this year, but you cannot let it take over your frame of mind. I won‘t suggest that you should always be eternally happy because I do think it is natural to have ups and downs, but do your best to rebound from the downs as possible and spend as much time as you can at various points from neutral to supreme happiness. Good luck with your searches and I hope this helps!