At the beginning of this year I was a marketing major, which meant I was required to do a full time internship the summer between my junior and senior year. This meant hours and hours of filling out long applications and making sure my cover letter included all of the correct information for the position. After filling out over twenty applications, it occurred to me that when I read the job descriptions, I was reading things that didn’t make sense to me. I was reading about large companies that had no impact on my life, and sometimes I didn’t even know exactly what the company did. The companies were ones I had heard of, but had no passion for. However, I needed a full-time, paid internship, so I continued the process. In the end, I was either rejected or hadn’t heard from every. single. company. It was then that I realized these three essential things:

1. These companies have not actually met me.

It’s impossible to accurately evaluate someone without meeting them or speaking to them. I have to remember that the companies I applied to are not rejecting me because of who I am, but are rejecting me because their application system filtered me out. Whenever we apply to a job, we have no way of showing how excited we are to learn, how quickly we get a job done, or how motivated we are to succeed, unless we are given the chance to actually meet with someone from the company. Even though I put hours of hard work into my resume and cover letters, I found it impossible to capture my willingness to do everything in my power to succeed in any given position. So I was not rejected, they just haven’t met me yet.

2. They were judging how well my resume matched their job description, word for word. They were not looking at my actual skill set or personality traits.

This may surprise some people, but when we submit our applications to large companies, we are put into a database. Our names turn into numbers and our skill sets turn into codes. In the first steps of the hiring process, we are being selected by how well we fit in, not how well we stand out. We’re essentially being evaluated on how well we copied their job description into our resumes, and often times these job descriptions are based on a fictional person that could not exist in the real world. It’s important to realize this, especially if you want to work for a large company. A good book to read on this topic is Designing Your Life. Knowing that my actual resume might not have been looked at reminds me that I was not rejected, I was just filtered out because I didn’t fit in.

3. Getting lost in a large company is not something I want to do, even if I am still young.

Gain some experience. Put yourself out there. Learn the ins and outs of business. Deal with real life issues. These are the reasons I was told I needed to apply to these internships.

I understand that gaining experience and putting myself out there is important, but getting rejected from these positions showed me that I will have to come up with other ways to learn more about the professional world. Getting rejected from not only one job, but multiple jobs, made it clear that I am not supposed to be trying to force my way into a large company that I have no interest in. There is safety and experience that comes with interning at a fortune 500 company, but I don’t want my entire life to be spent working somewhere just to be safe. I don’t want to spend my life working somewhere just to please my teachers or my family members, or even to please myself. I want my jobs, internships, and my career to have meaning. Getting rejected taught me more than getting the internships could have taught me. I challenge you to see the positives in rejection as well, because it might be the best thing that has ever happened to you. Getting turned down for these positions at large companies is something I will always be grateful for. I was not rejected, I was forced to find another way to succeed.

Rejection does not mean you are not good enough. It often means you are capable of greater things. You do not fit a stereotype. Your talents cannot be summed up on a resume. Your knowledge and drive cannot be put into one cover letter. Rejection does not mean you are not good enough. Rise above it, and create a life you deserve.