The second Disney Internship rejection hit me harder than the first. The first one hadn’t been much of a surprise; it was for a communications position that focused more on graphic design and social media than on writing, and I didn’t have as much to put on my resume about the former two. I was bummed, of course, but I still had five applications with “Under Review” as their status on my candidate dashboard, so I was mostly able to shrug off the “at this time we are considering candidates whose qualifications more line up with this role’s needs” email.
But then I found out about the park operations management internship application – not through an email, but by logging into my dashboard on a whim and seeing that the “Under Review” line had switched to “No Longer In Consideration.”
It felt like a slap in the face.
I had truly felt prepared for that role. I had spent two semesters working in park operations. I had met with my managers, and they helped me cater my resume to the application. I had attended every networking event and career development workshop I could find. In short, as far as I could tell, I had done all of the things that I was supposed to do to succeed.
But it wasn’t enough. Not enough for the role, not enough for an interview, and not even enough for a phone screening or a form email.
Two hours after seeing those four words on my candidate dashboard, I had a “meet and greet” with an entertainment manager. He’d had a management internship, and after that moved into a full-time role, helping bring shows in the parks to life, just like I’d love to do. And in the middle of our meeting, I started to cry.
I was mortified with myself, but I couldn’t help it. He took it well, giving me time to calm down again and not doing or saying anything to make me feel bad for crying, but I was still embarrassed enough that as soon as I’d left the building I started crying again.
“This is it,” I thought. “I’m cracking under the pressure. I worked my butt off to get here, and I’m failing anyway. I’m not good enough. What if I’m not good enough for any of them?”
Fast forward through three days of telling people I’d been rejected, getting hugs from coworkers and roommates and comforting texts from my parents, and managing to put my stress aside enough to focus on smiling and making people’s day at work.
It was the first day of my “weekend” (which is usually Tuesday/Wednesday; days of the week don’t mean much when you work in a theme park). I was woken up not by my alarm but by my phone ringing. The caller ID showed an unknown number, but the location it gave was Kissimmee, FL, so I picked it up.
The recruiter on the line wanted to know when I would be available to interview for the Live Entertainment Show Writer internship.
I don’t remember exactly how I responded, but I remember doing a lot of bouncing around and squealing after I hung up the phone. The management internship would have been a great opportunity, but the show writer internship – this was the role I’d spent the last two years dreaming about, building up my portfolio for, and in general working towards! This was my dream role!
I texted my friends and family. I emailed my network, and they replied en masse with interview advice: “Be confident!” “Be prepared to talk about collaboration, and what makes a good story.” “Don’t ramble. When you get to the end of an answer, STOP.” “Let your passion show – remember that they want you to succeed!” “BREATHE.”
I spent the whole day practicing answers to imagined questions, and the next day, I dressed my best and went in for the interview. There were two people in the room with me, and one of them I had met before on my networking journeys. And incredibly enough, for nearly everything they asked me, I had practiced an answer for. I felt confident and comfortable throughout.
“Even if I don’t get it,” I texted my parents as I left the interview, “I am very proud of myself.”
I could end this article here. Getting the interview was a huge honor and a major boost to my self-esteem. For the next week, I felt absolutely great.
But every now and then, things work out even better than great. Exactly a week after the interview, the recruiter called me back to offer me the role, and I gleefully accepted it.
The success doesn’t invalidate how bad I felt the week before it. I think there’s another lesson to be learned here. Working towards the future can really suck a lot of the time. But if we let that stop us from trying, then we won’t be there when the stars finally align.