Say ‘Thank You’ to rejection

Regine Gilbert
3 min readMar 8, 2017


This is part of my Lessons learned series.

Maya Angelou had a great quote. “If things don’t work out, say ‘Thank you because something better is coming along.”

In life, we know that there will be death and taxes. I would like to add rejection to that sentence because everyone experiences rejection at one point in time or another.

I’ve been rejected more times than I can count. In my first year living in NYC, I attended school and worked full time to pay rent. I got a job working retail and began interviewing for various positions. The fantastic thing was that I was getting interviews. The bad thing was that I was not getting any of the jobs.

In that first year living in New York City, I went on over 100 interviews and got rejected over 100 times.

Why 100 rejections?

There were numerous reasons I didn’t get the jobs. More often than not, it was my school schedule that interfered with acceptance.

What was I thinking?

On average, I was going on about 3 plus interviews a week, in addition to working 40 hours and taking 4 classes at one of the best design schools in the world.

At the time, my thinking was that each rejection meant that I was not liked and not worthy of getting all of those jobs (even those I didn’t want). And yet, I kept applying to get a better job than the one that I had. My goal was to work in fashion in design or textiles.

How did I get through it?

I was hating life. Even though I had a job, I hated it, and I couldn’t understand why I was getting interviews and none of the employment.

It all came down to a choice. Either I was going to keep going, or I was going to quit. I had a job, but I was going for jobs in my area of interest.

I went to career counseling at my school, did mock interviews, and followed all the checklist things you are supposed to do.

As exhausted as I was, I kept going. About 8 months into my retail job, I was laid off. I had been interviewing, but nothing was happening.

The day after I got laid off, I got a call saying that I got a job! A paid internship with Victoria’s Secret! I couldn’t believe it, I got a new job, and it was in fashion, and it was also temporary. During the internship, I continued looking for a job with no luck.

Failure = Learning

The choice I made to keep applying and keep going paid off in the end. I stopped anticipating experiences based on my past. What I did was change my mindset.

When my internship ended, I worked as a temp and decided to apply for fashion design jobs. After 3 months of temp work in banking, I landed a job as a technical fashion designer at The Jones Group.

I went on to have a successful career at Jones. It was a company I stayed with for 6 years.

Lessons Learned

Of course, I did not do this alone. I was lucky to have supportive friends and family. And in the end, I had to be the one to get my mind right.

I learned so much about myself from each of the interviews.

  • I learned what I liked and didn’t like.
  • I knew that interviews went both ways. Not only is the company interviewing me, but I am also questioning the company.
  • Rejection is protection and redirection.

Rejection used to hurt, and now it doesn’t bother me. In the end, I learned to say ‘Thank You’ to rejection, and that rejection is really protection and redirection. I am happy to be where I am now and doing the type of work that I love.

At the end of the day, things work out as they are supposed to. I’m grateful for all of those experiences because they helped me grow and learn.



Regine Gilbert

UX Designer. Professor @NYU @GA. Passionate about accessibility, design & tech. Thoughts are my own.