Sitting on a bus, stuck on a snowy gridlocked highway, I’m checking my phone to see how late I will be to my quickly approaching meeting. This is making me think about how different my life would be if I simply gave up any time something didn’t go exactly according to plan. If I did, I would be having a meltdown that this bus ride, typically 20 minutes, is taking over an hour. Now don’t get me wrong, I am definitely feeling a tiny bit of stress knowing I am running late, but in thinking about the bigger picture, this won’t matter. And so I start to consider how this small event connects to anything in life that doesn’t go as expected, takes a little bit longer, or veers way off track but leads to something new and exciting. I end up at the line that I remind myself of quite regularly – you can’t control every single external influence in your life, but you can control how you react to it and what you learn from it.
Throughout my career, I have had the unfortunate opportunity of delivering quite a few no’s to applicants – a denial on admission to their favorite college, a no on the internship they applied for, or a rejection from that very first job application out of college. Not to forget that I have also had my fair share of rejection over the years. This is always something to remember when you see a ‘no’ – odds are, the person delivering that news has also faced rejection several times in their lives, and they don’t enjoy being the bearer of bad news either.
Since starting in my role as an interview partner with the Disney College Program, there have been several students who have either directly asked or alluded to, “What will I do if I don’t get in?” Unfortunately, that is the reality for some applicants, but it absolutely does not mean you aren’t worthy or don’t have the potential to be a great candidate. What it does mean is that you have an opportunity to be thoughtful about who you are as a candidate, where your strengths lie, and where you can improve.
So when you hear a ‘no’, whether it is the first or the twentieth time, take a breath, maybe indulge in an extra bite of that chocolate bar or an extra scoop of ice cream, and remember these three things:
- Don’t be afraid to ask
- This doesn’t just mean ask your interviewer for feedback. Yes, they could potentially provide some insight or suggestions, but also make sure to ask yourself why. Is there something that could be missing from my resume? Am I truly prepared for this opportunity or do I need more time or more experience?
- Ask for help. Your academic advisor, a professor, your roommate – these are all people you can ask for help in looking over your resume, helping you practice your interview skills, and even looking at your application in an objective way to see if there are areas for improvement.
- Do the work to make yourself a better, more qualified candidate
- If you do receive feedback or feel that you need more experience to prepare, make it happen! Find a job that you can learn from, take a class in an area where you feel you need more knowledge, or volunteer in your community.
- TRY AGAIN
- It might seem clear, but being told to try again doesn’t mean that you should simply submit the exact same application again at a different point in time. Steps one and two must come first for this step to have the potential for success.
After you consider these three steps, move on. Think about how you could continue to work toward a new goal, and put in the effort, but don’t spend all of your time dwelling on that rejection. Yes, it stings for a bit, but it does not take away from who you are and what you have to contribute. Everyone has a unique path, and yours will be no different.
When it comes to the Disney College Program, a perk about applying is that the timing usually gives you the opportunity to apply more than once. So ask questions, gain experience, practice your interview (in front of a mirror, with a friend – anything works!) and then try again. After the second, third, or even fourth time around, maybe that ‘yes’ will feel even a little more magical.