No one likes rejection. We don’t apply to jobs hoping for the worst. However, what is even worse is rejection from a job that you’ve been dreaming of for years. It seems everything you have done and taken part in has been in preparation for that one all-important interview. Weeks and months and years of preparation, and then bam… one email: ‘I’m sorry to inform you that you have been unsuccessful…’ I don’t know about you, but when I got rejected from my dream grad scheme, that’s all I needed to read to know it was the end of that journey.
I’d always dreamed of working with vulnerable members of society, but never thought there would be a grad scheme that encapsulated everything I wanted from a job so well – a great salary, working as a prison officer, every day different, making a real difference to society, a fully funded masters… the list goes on. When I found out about the Unlocked grad scheme, I immediately applied to become a brand manager, thinking that would help my chances with the ultimate grad scheme. I was successful and started working for Unlocked at the beginning of my final year. Autumn came, and I applied for their grad scheme and got through to the final assessment centre. I had become complacent – ‘I’ve visited prisons already, I’ve taken leadership roles at uni, had jobs and volunteering roles AND I work for the company. Surely the job is in the bag.’ How wrong was I? You can go to all of the right societies, had all of the right experiences, but if you don’t perform on the day, if you can’t twist the experiences you’ve had into how it will make you the perfect applicant, they are not interested.
Tears were shed when that rejection email came through a few weeks later, and trust me, it’s ok to feel sad. It’s okay to feel disappointed, to wonder what you could have done differently, to kick yourself for not being better. But there has to be a point where you pick yourself up and ask: what next? If it is available, then reach out for feedback. Find out what went wrong, what you can do better next time, and to cater to the cliché, learn from it! An unsuccessful job is never a failure – it’s a learning curve. Take time to make a plan of action. Think through what were the aspects of the job that really appealed to you? Think what your next steps are going to be. For me personally, it became clear that I wasn’t going for the job for the prestige of the grad scheme, I wasn’t going for it for the fully funded masters (although undoubtedly, they would have been amazing perks). I wanted to be working in a prison, as a prison officer, making a difference to the lives of prisoners. So, once I had come to that conclusion, I started looking for different routes into that same role. I applied through the conventional route to become a prison officer, and I’m sat here today with a job offer to start this summer.
There are so many options after a rejection. If you use your time wisely to revaluate, you may decide to go into the job through a different route. You may decide to take a year out and reapply when you’re a year older and wiser (and don’t have the stress of deadlines at the same time as the applications). You may decide to go down a completely different route. And you may decide to put it to the back of your head for a while and come back to it at a later date. In my experience, things tend to work out for a reason. As I’m sat writing my dissertation, I am so so grateful that I don’t have to do a masters alongside a full-time job next year. If I want to do a masters later in life, that is still an option. Life is full of possibilities and doors to open. Don’t be too disheartened. Don’t think that this is the end. There are always multiple ways to go about getting your dream job. I promise!
Header image credit: The Guardian