Maryland GovPics/ Flickr
Maryland GovPics/ Flickr

“Thank you for your application, but unfortunately…”

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During Easter of my second year, I decided I was going to get organized and attempt to get an internship. I quickly discovered that there were actually quite a few vacancies in the charity sector, my area of interest for after I graduate. One would think it was just a matter of sending off a few applications, right? Wrong.

I applied in total for roughly seven internship roles, and was extremely lucky in that every application I sent off resulted in an interview. However, don’t think that I’m blowing my own trumpet too much, because after every interview, no matter how well I thought I had performed, I got a big, fat rejection email.

After a tearful phone call to my mum where she told me to focus on my upcoming exams and that everything was going to be okay because my cats still thought I was great…

I attended my final interview and, naturally, received my final rejection email. I was faced with the reality that I wasn’t going to be completing a charity internship this summer.

After a tearful phone call to my mum where she told me to focus on my upcoming exams and that everything was going to be okay because my cats still thought I was great, she mentioned that charities might still be looking for volunteers.

Ironically, this was one of the companies that had rejected me post-interview…

Over the next few weeks leading up to summer I continued trawling websites of charities, determined to find a way in somehow. Somehow, I stumbled across an Events and Administration Office Volunteer role at Cancer Research UK.

Ironically, this was one of the companies that had rejected me post-interview. At the time, I didn’t even think much of it as I filled out the application form, assuming it wouldn’t come to much.

Every day was different, from creating promo material, to managing a Twitter account, to recruiting people to take part in our events…

However, that volunteer application form led to four days a week, for over two months in Cancer Research UK’s head office in London. Initially, I was very worried that I would simply be doing photocopying and making tea, but very quickly I was given a lot of responsibility.

I worked on various fundraising events, carrying out a wide array of tasks. Every day was different, from creating promo material, to managing a Twitter account, to recruiting people to take part in our events.

The point is this: don’t give up…

I also got to attend a lab tour, meet Gary Lineker, and when sourcing goody bag prizes, received a delivery of 800 bags of popcorn. That was a good day.

The point is this: don’t give up. Yes, it sounds cliché, but had I given up after all those internship rejections, I never would have had the opportunity to work at Cancer Research in the end.

Determination and hard work will pay off and someone will see how fabulous you are in the end…

If at first you don’t succeed, then don’t panic because another opportunity is probably out there. Determination and hard work will pay off and someone will see how fabulous you are in the end.

Even if you don’t get an internship then it’s not the end of the world. I didn’t and it was the best summer role I could have asked for!

 

Top tips

 

  • Printscreen the intern role description: it will probably be taken off the website after applications close and you want to be able to make sure you cover every bullet point in the interview.

 

  • Ask for feedback after rejections: it can be tempting to delete the email, pour a glass of wine, and never utter the name of your rejecters again, but this won’t help you get better. Ask for some tips about what you can do to improve for next time.

 

  • Have some stock answers: a lot of applications and interviews will ask you very similar things, e.g. give an example of a time you worked in a team, how do you manage your time etc. So, save yourself time and have some answers rehearsed so that you can recount and adapt them to most applications and interviews.

 

  • Look after yourself: rejection can be draining, so call a friend, drink some tea, and remember your self worth is based on so much more than whether or not an anonymous someone in an office thinks your CV is impressive.

 

Alex Bach

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