• Wed, Apr 6 2011

College Life: Facing Job Rejections

Throughout college, we’ve all dealt with rejection. What was it? Things went sour after the first date? You didn’t get into your sorority or acapella group of choice? High school might even have been worse – the cool girls ostracized you, perhaps, and then you didn’t get into your top colleges of choice.

But among all of those, the most biting of rejections has to be the job rejection. A different beast entirely, job rejections are a major blow to the ego and they also make that unspoken – graduation – even harder to face.

I speak on this topic having applied for many internships, and now from within the throes of the job hunt. So, I’ve faced some workplace rejection before and I’m sure I’ll experience some more of it in the near future.

In many ways, not getting the job of your dreams is like dealing with grief. It tends to progress through a number of steps, beginning with denial and ending with acceptance. Generally – and I’ve seen myself and friends react this way – it begins by convincing yourself you didn’t even want the job in the first place. It wouldn’t have been a good fit, definitely not. After brushing aside the disappointment, reality sets in and emotions take over. It feels like nothing else will ever work out. It feels like no job will even want you. You’re totally going to end up as a toilet cleaner. Your life is going to turn out just like the worst outcome you ever got in a game of middle school MASH. Yes, you are going to drive a toilet on wheels and live in a shack and probably the only person who will marry you is the kid in the corner who picks his nose. But then, like after breakup, you eat a little ice cream or go out and get drunk or do whatever it is you do, and then you feel fine again, though a little anxious.

Of course, job rejection, more than other college experiences, is an experience we’re certain to have again later in life. Though I’m sure job rejections and layoffs in five or ten or twenty years will still burn and sting, they feel particularly stinging as graduation approaches. It’s a time of lots of uncertainty, for starters, and the transition is challenging even without . And it’s hard to imagine and deal with moving into real life when you’re being turned away from that cornerstone of real life-ness: a career.

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  • Jel

    I’m a senior in college just starting to get my first rejections – fun, right?. Your piece summed up the feelings I’m having really well. At least we’re all in this together :)