Coping with “No”

Whether your career plan involves grad school, finding an internship, or applying for jobs, there will be rejection on the way to success.

Some advice as you move forward on your path through and out of college:

  1. ¬†Get comfortable with hearing “no.” ¬†People will say no and turn you down for things. It’s okay, and it happens to everyone. The sooner you make peace with that fact of existence, the more efficient you will be in pursuing opportunities without worrying about it.
  2. Wait for other people to tell you “no.” Worried that you don’t have enough experience, you’re not what they’re looking for, there are other more qualified applicants, it’s not related to your major, your background isn’t relevant? Nothing is gained by turning yourself down. If the opportunity interests you and you have reason to believe that you could do it, then go ahead and apply.
  3. Emphasize the reasons for “yes.” Draw attention to the strengths you can bring to the position, and avoid self-defeating disclaimers like “Even though I haven’t worked directly in X…” or “I have no experience with Y, but…” Keep in mind that enthusiasm for a field can be a qualification.
  4. Have a plan bigger than any particular “no.” Keep in mind the larger personal goals that any one job, internship, grad school program, or fellowship will serve. Are you looking to gain skills? Get certain kinds of work experience? Obtain a mentor? Learn more about a field? There’s a way to achieve that goal even if something specific you’ve applied for doesn’t work out. Neatly packaged programs or positions aren’t the only path to success. Take time to think through potential alternatives (networking, volunteering, job-shadowing) and keep pursuing opportunities while you wait to hear back on applications.