Dealing with Rejection and Application Burnout

By: Brian Harrington

The application process for both full-time and internship positions can be a long and grueling process. While some may find their dream position within a few weeks, others could spend months searching for that ideal role and company. As time progresses, your motivation can dwindle as you find yourself sending out dozens of applications. Here are some tips to help you deal with potential application burnout and making the most of potential rejections:

  • Don’t take it personally. There are things you CAN control and things you CAN’T. Can: your application materials, your interview prep, your network, your skills. Can’t: who else applied, their skills, their interview process, their network. You may be equally as qualified as the candidate that they did select for the position, but there are just small factors that you can’t always control if/when a company picks someone else.
  • Ask for feedback. Just because you may not have been selected, doesn’t mean it’s a wasted experience. Ask recruiters you met how you can improve in the future, especially if you had applied for an internship and would still want to apply for full-time opportunities with the same company next year.
  • Reflect on why you applied for the job. Were you genuinely interested in that specific role/company or did you apply just for the sake of trying to get an “experience” and they only required a resume? (be honest).
  • Consider different factors. Depending on your class year, you might want to try to widen your view and look at all the angles.
    • Sophomores – rejection can often be due to your grade level. I applied to almost 30 different internships and was only asked to interview for one. The interview didn’t take place until three weeks before school ended, but the wait was well worth it as I ended up really enjoying the position. However, if I hadn’t gotten it, I had already started planning how I would ask for more responsibility at my previous Camp Counselor position that I could return to that summer. Thinking of other ways to create opportunity and experiences is an important plan too.
    • Juniors – consider all your options. Are there summer courses you can take? Do you want to spend the summer abroad? Can you ask professors for research opportunities in a field you are interested in? Have you considered non-profits or start ups? Are there online certifications worth picking up? It doesn’t have to be a traditional “internship” to provide great experience or skills.
    • Seniors – think about what you’re open to. In today’s workforce most people don’t spend more than two to three years in their first role, which is less than 8% of your entire career. Your first position/company is, most likely, not forever. Therefore, think about the important values and skills and consider ALL the ways to achieve those.

As you continue your job search and send out even more applications, remember that you have help and support, even after you leave. The UDC, the Feld Center, the CCD, professors, there are tons of people you can access to talk through your situation and review all your career goals with. This can be a great way to refocus and recover from the stress or burnout you may be feeling.

By Trish Harper
Trish Harper ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, UNDERGRADUATE CAREER ADVISING Profile Picture