Friday, October 21, 2016

When Rejected, Don't Be Dejected

Rejection is never a pleasant feeling. In Week Four of my "Drafting Against The Dark Arts' class, I opened up on one of my (many) painful experiences with rejections.

(If you've been missing the past lessons or need a refresher, you can read about Week One, Week Two, and Week Three too.)

And NO hipsters allowed!

* * *

Imagine I’m the partner of a prestigious law firm. Salary is high, environment is good. But I have space only for one of you. Who should I hire? What would you do to get hired?

I was in the same spot before, towards the end of my final year. There was this big firm which went all-out in their recruitment drive for pupils. Every year, they had expensive setups at career fairs which served tantalising food (donuts, chocolates, and coffee). One year, they even had Elaine Daly manning the booths (a friend dared me to chat with her, and I did). A lot of my seniors worked there, and spoke highly of the firm. It was the #1 firm on my list. And in my final year, they threw a private office tour for the top 30 students from UM.

Those interested could sit for an interview. I sat for it, and so did many of my classmates. The interview went on smoothly. The partner interviewing me was one of the senior ones, which I haven’t met before. Some of my friends got the more prominent recruitment partners. But I wasn’t too worried. The interview was all but a formality, I thought. My CGPA was decent, my resume packed with achievements. I met a few partners from past career fairs, some even remembering me by name. So I went home feeling confident that I had the job wrapped up.

Four of my classmates got a chambering spot. I didn’t.


I was shocked. Devastated. Depressed.

Days later, a good friend from the firm (one year my senior) called me up, inquiring on how my application was going. I told him of my rejection. He was shocked as I was. He promised to talk to a partner he was close with (and who I also knew and got on quite well during the career fairs). Ego still badly bruised, I told him to forget it, but he kept insisting on helping me.

Not long after, I got a call from the partner. He said that the firm would now like to offer me a spot. It was a tough decision to make. This was not how I envision landing my first job. I already had offers from three other reputable firms. But I really liked this firm. Should I just swallow my pride and take up the offer?

After some thought, I accepted. I went on to enjoy 3+ years there, and more importantly, stayed much longer than my other four classmates. So in a way, I was actually their best hire from UM that year. Funny how I nearly didn’t make it.

What’s the morale of the story? Two things:
  • The hiring process at any firm can be rather random and subjective, so don’t take it too personally when you get rejected
  • Landing the right job is often down to luck – but what we can do is increase our luck by positioning ourselves into the right places (networking helps)

Forever Alone

We cannot avoid rejection. We’ve all been rejected at some point of our lives – scholarships, auditions, job interviews, and so on.

Having a record of rejections is a good thing. It means that you’re trying hard and aiming high. Rejections make us stronger. In the end, it’s not how many times you fall that counts, but how many times we pick ourselves up and reach to the top.


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