Rejection letters remind editor of others who failed at first

Tis the season for rejection.


Everywhere you look, students are being turned down for jobs, summer internships or graduate programs – myself included.

And regardless of what you’ve applied for, rejection sounds the same: “Thank you for applying…We regret to inform you…”

Essentially, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

The best rejection notes get it over with in the first sentence. From there, they follow a similar pattern, mentioning a record number of applicants or limited number of openings.

Interestingly enough, these letters often include a line or two encouraging the rejected candidate to apply again in the future. Sure, the saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But we aren’t talking about trying to moonwalk after watching Michael Jackson’s performance of “Billie Jean” because a) who didn’t? and b) it isn’t that embarrassing. (Unless you fell backwards over your own feet while doing so, which I did.)

No, career-related rejection feels comparable to being snubbed when asking for a date. Under those circumstances, the “try, try again” method sounds more like the “John Hinckley, Jr.” method.

It’s tough enough keeping a level head while skimming through the formulaic rambling in rejection letters, especially when the school/organization/company wishes you luck in your future endeavors.

“Future? What future? I’m going to have to apply for an entry-level position at a place that includes the words ‘random drug testing’ in the description. They might not even call me for an interview! I’ll spend the rest of my life shredding roast beef at Arby’s!”

Vince Vaughn’s character in “Dodgeball” offered one way to avoid this feeling of inadequacy. “I found that if you have a goal,” he said, “that you might not reach it. But if you don’t have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell you, it feels phenomenal.”

Melodrama and black comedy aside, rejection is part of the process. The world’s richest individuals met with failure a time or 20 before achieving success.

Twelve publishers told J.K. Rowling to take a hike before one took a chance on her little fantasy novel. (We can only assume the first 12 publishers have since closed their doors in shame.) Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Steven Spielberg applied to the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times, to no avail. Henry Ford went bankrupt. So did Walt Disney. And Milton Hershey.

For the record, bankruptcy isn’t an option for down-and-out undergrads. Accepting a student loan from the government is equivalent to kidnapping Liam Neeson’s daughter. Student loan officers have a very particular set of skills – skills they have acquired over very long careers, skills that make them a nightmare for people like desperate 20-something borrowers.

Rowling, Speilberg and the gang laughed all the way to the bank. Imagine if they’d taken Vince Vaughn’s approach. There would be no “Harry Potter,” no “Jurassic Park,” no chocolate. The horror!



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