Maria Fischer talks about how to react to being rejected for internships.
I am the queen of internship rejections. Even though I proudly sport several internships on my resume, scoring these positions did not come without some challenge, headaches and, admittedly, a few tears.
Last spring, I applied for roughly 15 internships. Of those 15, just four called me back for an interview, only three reached out to me for a follow-up interview, and a grand total of zero ended up on my summer schedule.
This unfortunate string of events forced me to start the tedious internship search over again. But I suddenly I found myself caving to the fear of rejection. Why put myself out there only to risk overwhelming disappointment when an internship falls through?
With internship application season swiftly approaching, memories of last year’s difficulties are already starting to stir up some nervous energy: What if I can’t land that dream internship before I graduate? How much rejection do I endure before it’s a sign to give up?
I learned that I should actually brace myself for many more “no”s coming my way. Lauren Berger, founder of InternQueen.com, gained fame at age 24 after completing 15 internships throughout her college career at high-level companies like Fox, NBC and MTV. She now devotes her career to helping students score top-notch internships. She recently wrote words of encouragement to my fellow internship rejects on her website:
“If I hadn't been rejected countless times, I wouldn't be running the business that I am today,” Berger said.
Although it’s painful, Berger has a point. Receiving an internship rejection is actually a blessing in disguise. Being met with a big, fat “no” gives students an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and fix certain aspects of the application process that they’ve been doing wrong. With fierce competition among students across the country, it’s the little things that separate one candidate from the next. Something as simple as sending a thank you letter or revamping the layout of your resume can turn a “no” into a “you’re hired.” But students won’t know what works and what doesn’t unless they’ve been rejected.
Rejections also force students to re-evaluate why they even want a particular internship in the first place. Earlier this year, I was rejected for a public relations internship at a prestigious company in New York. I was disappointed at first, but my sad feelings turned into relief when I realized I only applied for the internship because the company was a big name, not because the job would give me the experience I need for my future career. I’m a journalism major on the news and information track, so why get hung up over an internship that doesn’t involve the skills I’ve worked to acquire these past three years?
Everyone wants to feel accomplished, but success doesn’t come without it’s fair share of failures. As long as students learn something from every “no,” those rejections will turn into a “yes” in no time.
Maria Fischer is a junior studying journalism. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org