Say ‘Thank You’ to rejection

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 was attending school and worked full time to pay rent. I got a job working retail and began interviewing for various positions. The awesome 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 school 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 the ones I didn’t want). And yet I kept applying in the effort 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 jobs.

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 I followed all the checklist things if what 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 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 was working 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 learned that interviews went both ways, not only is the company interviewing me, I am interviewing 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.