Are you ready to fail?

If you have recently made it into a business school, congratulations…and brace yourself. You have now entered the zone of relentless rejections (unless you take the first job offer you receive, in which case have you really MBA-ed?). To each her own, but for those like me, always eager to see what more is out there, this blog is for you.

Your background might not be the right fit, your passport might not be the right color, your scores might not be the right number— what it all boils down to is receiving that letter: ‘Thank you for your interest, unfortunately…..’.

How do you keep your head high and spirits up when the rejections begin to fall denser than snow in St Louis?

After a year of having my pride chopped up by the nth company, I have some thoughts to share. Here goes four ways to get back up after getting knocked down:

Throw a pity party—literally

My friends and I started hosting a ‘pity party’ for whoever received a rejection, which has translated into a lot of partying. The rules are such: the rejected is special for that night – your drinks are fetched for you, food is cooked for you, and you can whine without restriction. Nonetheless, the parties do not see a lot of whining. There is something about empathy that cheers you up faster and helps you go further. There have been times when, after a moment of sadness due to rejection, I was excited about the pity party to come that night. Pity parties made rejection special!

Mourn your loss

However, there are those opportunities which you really, really wanted—and for those, a pity party is just not enough. For those ultra-special rejections, you need to mourn. Set aside your time to mourn: Give yourself two hours, five hours, one night, one day—whatever seems adequate—to be depressed. Binge watch Netflix, sleep for 12 hours, miss a class—do what you need to do to feel the loss. Then, get up and get going again—the next opportunity is waiting for your best effort!

Be grateful for the experience

Its counterintuitive, I know. What I learned, however, is that every rejection made me better. Whether I was rejected before an interview or after (or the worst—after 5 interviews!) every attempt was an experience that taught me ways to improve for the next time. Look at it as a learning opportunity, one that is preparing you to land and succeed in your future job. Always ask for feedback to see where you fell short, then put them in your notebook or throw them out the window—but ask nonetheless. Finally, say thank you to your God or your fate for the experience.

Remember, it’s a numbers game

Shoot for your target, learn from the missed shots, adjust your aim, repeat. Persistence and optimism will pay off. I have seen it happen again and again, to me and to those around me. Also, this is the best time to build your network—and the bigger your network, the broader your lifetime opportunities. So aim for that high number and begin the game.

You have written-off two years of your life to gain new, different, and better experiences in an MBA program—why not make the most of it? The daily rhythm of work life will resume at the end of these two years. Take the chances now, invest in risky propositions, fail fabulously, and fail with finesse.



Note from the editor: It is natural to struggle with the stress of school, work, and life. We want to bring to your attention several campus resources for students:

  • Counseling
  • “Let’s Talk,” a program that provides students with easy access to free, brief, confidential consultations with counselors from Mental Health Services (MHS).
  • Stress-Less @ WashU offers 20-minute, one-on-one consultations designed to help you manage stress intentionally and identify the ways you successfully manage stress as well as your barriers to stress management.
  • Stressbusters is a health initiative that helps WashU students, staff, and faculty rediscover relaxation. 

For more campus resources, be sure to visit the Student Health Services website

In Career, Student Life
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2 Responses to "Are you ready to fail?"

  1. avatar Lisa Hebert

    Perfectly said Raisaa – “invest in risky propositions, fail fabulously, and fail with finesse”. Your attitude and dedication is a true example.

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