Two things happened to me recently:
1. I had an interview with Chipotle.
2. I received my first career rejection letter.
I want to talk about the letter.
This wasn’t technically my first rejection letter after college (I was rejected from the Sundance Film Festival as an employee) and probably not the last. However, this is the one that seemed to hit me the hardest. I was rejected by a friend of my parents friend. Someone the woman had known for years. He didn’t directly reject me instead he stated that “they currently did not have any positions that fit my qualifications” or in other words sorry we can’t find anything with your lack of experience.
I know I’m not the most qualified. I just graduated college. I didn’t secure an internship with a public relations firm before I graduated. I did not have a 4.0 GPA and I didn’t realize that this was the path that I wanted to go on until my 3rd/4th year of college. I was referred, shouldn’t that have mattered more than my experience? Shouldn’t there be some “little” position I could get.
Despite what we’re told in college about “job hunting” many millennials still feel entitled to a job after college. They feel they should be rewarded for continuing their education outside of high school (not all but a majority). I hate to say it but I wasn’t any different. It’s easy to forget the level of work it takes to actually secure a job. So when I saw the dreaded sorry come across my email I was brought back to earth. It hit me like a big fat D-. The grade you were given because your professor liked you and didn’t want you to fail. I received a D- because well…I knew someone.
While networking is important to get a career anywhere that should not be what you rely on. Practical experience and knowledge that you can use to differentiates yourself is key. For example in my interview at Chipotle I said that my greatest strength is my ability to stay positive (pretty simple right). That’s not an experience but it definitely differentiated myself from the rest of the team. Not many people can stay positive under any situation. Find what makes you special and sell it. Personally, I don’t think I sold myself in my cover letter that I sent to the company that rejected me.
Also after getting rejected it is always in your best interest to make sure to follow-up and stay in contact. This might sound like common sense but send a follow-up letter/email. If you have an address hand write a letter it makes a better impression because people barely hand write anything anymore. Some companies prefer not to get mail though so if that is the case an email works the same. Follow-up emails can also lead to future jobs. Just because I’m not ready now doesn’t mean I might not be ready in the future.
THERE’S A POSITIVE IN EVERY NEGATIVE
I didn’t get the job and it hurt but honestly it has made me into a better person. Sometimes we forget that rejection is real. Movies always make life after college seem like it is going to be a walk in the park. You graduate, you’ll land the perfect job, move into an amazing apartment and live happily ever after. Well as Beyonce said “The reality is: sometimes you lose. And you’re never too good to lose. You’re never too big to lose. You’re never too smart to lose. It happens.” If Beyonce can lose and get rejected sometimes…I think we all can.
Rejection motivated me to continue my job search which had completely come to a stand still. I sent my resume and cover letter to so many places without considering if I truly met the needs of the company and figured “Hey I should be getting a response soon, I’ll just wait around for a minute”. Then the response came and reminded me that I can lose. Failure is real but it shouldn’t be the thing stopping me and it shouldn’t be stopping you.
Outside of not being offered a position I have been given the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation about Public Relations, my goals, advice and options. As mentioned there is a positive in every negative. So let’s see where this conversation goes and hopefully I will continue to be pushed in the direction of a career in Public Relations. If not maybe I’ll develop a better understanding of who I am and what I’m meant to be doing.
P.S. If you get a rejection letter don’t worry too much just because you were not qualified for that position doesn’t mean there isn’t a position out there waiting for you. Stay positive job hunters!