2 min read
Saksham Mendiratta
Anonymous Intern: 5 Stages Of Rejection

“Thanks for your interest, but we regret to inform you…” 

“We appreciate your effort, however we cannot….”

“We received your application, unfortunately there is no…”

I’m now practiced in the art of receiving a thank-you and a screw-you in the same letter. Sometimes I don’t even get a letter; I assume that total radio silence over my application is an even higher form of rejection. Can you really be rejected if they don’t even look at your email? 

This is where I manifest my most pathetic form - I have often sent follow-ups to applications I haven’t heard back about after two months, only to hear that they are not interested, never were, never will be, but they’ll keep your CV in an email folder for future reference, you know, in case the 103 other candidates don’t work out. 

If you have been through an internship application cycle like I have, you know what it’s like to be brutalised by rejection after rejection after rejection. Pretty straightforward process: find a great place to work at over a summer break from college, pour your heart out into an unimaginably-obsequious cover letter, even consider penning down a portfolio with your life’s work (so basically, the 2 or 3 college assignments you got As in), and have it all come crashing down with this platitude of the highest order: “thanks, with regrets.”

You know what makes it even worse? It is the number of friends I have seen secure tiny little bits of their future through their full-fledged summer stints. I’m a little sick of putting on my little act every time.

“Woah - you got that spot at [insert name of prestigious or pompous place of work]? I’m over the moon, bud!” *hang up phone before you smash it to pieces*

Not trying to encourage such violent emotion, but the internship life’s a constant state of reverse schadenfreude. A feeling of limitless rage, melancholy and grief when I hear my friends coming into a bit of fortune. 

Everything is just too competitive and that was before we had a bat virus ravaging the world (and the job market). Now, it is with psychological, self-esteem-crushing, slow-motion grief that I approach each year of applications. Dramatic, yes? But I’m really onto something here though, so hear me out. Like with all processes of grief, I, and probably you, go through the same five stages of emotional responses to my professional failures. On the other hand, if you, my reader, have ever rejected anybody, you will now know what exactly you have put me through:

denial.There is no way I read that email properly. 

anger. What...the…??? Well that’s just preposterous. Who is the incompetent oaf at the other end of my application?! My father shall hear about this. 

bargaining. Damn it, maybe if I’d included a line about my two-week-career as an assistant-to-my-dad’s-assistant, I’d have left every other candidate in the dust? 

depression. This sucks, life sucks, and please leave me alone. I needed this 2-month social-media-management internship for my life’s happiness, and now I will never have that. Nobody will want a washed-up 19-year old with more than six decades of their life ahead of them like me.

acceptance. Well, alright. This still sucks a lot but I’ll live. I can probably move on to another application and start again. 

A little ridiculous, yes, but what I’m trying to get at here is the volatile manner in which I reposition my worth whenever I get one of these rejections. Because that’s just the world we live in now: applying for internships is no longer really about establishing interest, but establishing worth. I no longer have the ‘luxury’ of learning through an internship, taking my time with it, and applying for it when I feel like it. The fact of the matter is, if I don’t do one when I’m on a summer break, I’m immediately out of the race when it comes to getting a job after college. 

And yet, each rejection only emboldens my conviction: I will get something, as I have after plenty of rejections before. Don’t get me wrong, receiving one is a downer every time. I sit with all my feelings in my chest, a lump ready for deployment at the back of my throat, perhaps a soft dog sitting under my feet for extra emotional support, and I gently tap the email titled ‘Regarding your Application.’ My vision blears as I read “Thank you for your effort towards this application, but we regret to inform you…” 

I cannot read any further. I take myself through those five stages. I tell myself: “there is no fool-proof process of application, and one rejection does not an undesirable young-little-bright-eyed-bushy-tailed-college-student make. I just sigh my deepest sighs, rant about it on a blog, and apply again somewhere tomorrow.