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Surviving Rejection Before Job Searching

New Professionals and Graduate Students Graduate
July 7, 2020 Delasia Rice

As a graduate student, I have heard stories about the impending job search. I’ve heard about the rejection - or in some cases, ghosting - in this field. As many other graduate students, I try to be involved and gain as much experience professionally as I can so that I can put my best foot forward. I apply for any opportunities that would be great on my resume and/or help my development as a future student affairs professional. I am using my time to become a strong candidate, so rejection has been far from my mind.


Since it is the summer before my final semester, I am in full job search preparation mode both professionally and personally. I have applied for programs designed to help me prepare for the field. I have also applied for part-time jobs in order to save for the upcoming financial cost I anticipate I will have while job searching. I became overly confident though, thinking I would have to turn away opportunities, but then I received two rejections within two hours of each other. One from a leadership development program that I had no doubt I would get. I applied for the position so that I could use it to network and learn more about being a student affairs professional. The other rejection I experienced was from a job that would have seriously helped me with finances and also connect me with the field and my research interests. It would have given me the transferable skills, knowledge, and real-world work in the education field that I desperately needed since I lacked a graduate assistantship. I thought I had prepared myself to have tough skin when it came to handling rejection, but I also thought I wouldn’t deal with it until the job search. So yeah, two rejections back-to-back? I did NOT handle it well. 


After a few days of trying to handle myself and no longer wanting to wallow in self-pity, I began reflecting on my experience with rejection. I thought it would be a good idea to find some ways I can work through rejection without having a “woe is me” attitude. Of course contacting the person with the opportunity to get some feedback would be everyone’s top choice. Who doesn’t want to hear from the actual interviewer about what they can do better for next time? However, this is not always an option. Sometimes in this field, we are lucky to just get an actual response about a rejection let alone trying to get feedback. 


Here are some ideas I use that help me handle rejection: 

  1. Reflection 

I realize it is important for me to reflect on how I did during the process. Sometimes I have to realize that I didn’t “have it in the bag” like I thought I did. Maybe I could have spent more time on the application questions or had a couple of people review my resume and cover letter. Every professional experience needs to be tailored and taken with time if I truly want it.


  1. Affirmations

Though I wish they did not, rejections get to me. As much as I want to read a rejection email and be unphased, it is just not possible. It helps to sometimes look at myself in the mirror and be my own cheerleader. I need to encourage myself and let it be known that this is not the end all be all. Keep my eyes on the goal and try again.


  1. Give myself time

It is heartbreaking to not get an opportunity that you wished I would get. One that even though I should not have, I began to move as if I have already gotten it. It is okay to take some time and be sad about it. We are only human! 


  1. Make a plan for what I will do next and EXECUTE it

It is okay to give myself time but once that time is over, I need to wipe my tears and get back to work! Making a plan can keep your mind off of things and keep busy.


These are just a few things I do and I hope they are useful to others considerations too! Everyone has their own way to handle rejection. The main thing is that you handle it and get through it. Do not let it consume you.  Remember that what is meant for you will be for you!


Author: Delasia Rice is a graduate of the College at Brockport with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is a member of NASPA and heavily involved in the New Professionals and Graduate Student KC. She is also a member of the National Career Development Association. Delasia is currently in the College at Brockport's Higher Education Administration online masters program where she is hoping to work in Career Services. She is hoping to use her degree and multitude of experience to eventually get her doctorate degree and focus on building connections between K-12 and Higher Education as well as working with college students with kids. Delasia is the mother of 3 boys and enjoys all things Harry Potter, Disney and Marvel.