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.
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.