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How to deal with rejection

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FEBRUARY 17, 2023

I’ve recently started applying to jobs and have gotten more rejection emails than I would’ve liked. But throughout the process, I’ve also noticed how I grew much tougher skin when it comes to facing rejection during my four years here at Berkeley. Of course, I still get a little bit upset when it comes to not passing a final round interview, but I’ve found better ways of coping with rejection. If you’re someone who struggles with rejection, here are some of the tips that I’ve learned over the years. 

There will always be better opportunities for you (especially at Berkeley)

After my first year at Berkeley, I realized just how competitive this school can be, which really discouraged me. Once I started getting rejected for even the smallest work-study job on campus due to too many applicants, I just assumed it was because I was lacking in skill and experience. 

Looking back at this now, these opportunities wouldn’t have allowed me to go outside of my comfort zone since I was only applying to things that were heavily focused on my major. At UC Berkeley, there are a ton of opportunities for you to take advantage of. So, if you happen to get rejected from that big tech club during the third round of interviews, try to do something that you are interested in outside of your major. Although it might not seem like it, there are a ton of extracurricular clubs on campus that don’t require an application but could still help you learn valuable skills if you look for them. 

Recognize that rejection is normal 

Even though this is something that is always talked about, it is hard for us to actually accept and acknowledge it. It may often feel like people here are just naturally talented and have gotten big internships without any effort, but that is rarely the case. If you ask most of the students at UC Berkeley, they are bound to have gotten rejected from something. Last year, after a month of recruiting and plenty of rejection emails, I started to realize that this is something that’s normal and that it could take hundreds of applications for someone to find their perfect internship or job. 

Embrace redirection

After I completed my minor in Journalism, I was set on getting an internship in the field the following summer. But, after a couple rejections from news companies and asking other journalists about their experience, I questioned whether this direction was the right one for me. So, I started to apply for more internships in the Communications and Social Media fields where I had some experience but wasn’t interested at first. After more final-round interviews and talking to other professionals, I was able to envision myself in that field a lot more. Through this, I was able to realize that exploring other options can help you branch out and gain more experience in fields adjacent to the one you’re interested in. 

Learn to grow with more experience

Since we are college students, there’s still plenty of time to gain experience. For me, what really helped me grow in skill level started with one small position as an officer for a club on campus. This experience led to a work-study job in a similar field and eventually an internship. So, if you are given the opportunity to take on a leadership role, whether that be in a small club you are a part of, your work-study job or even taking a class that is closely related to the industry you want to go into, take advantage of it. 

Once you receive a rejection, you can also make sure you learn from what you thought you might’ve done wrong. Try to list out the questions they asked you in an interview that you were stuck on so you can answer more clearly next time. Or, try to do a mock interview with understanding friends who are also in your major for extra practice! 

Be kind to yourself

Facing rejection is one of the hardest things that everyone experiences at Berkeley, but it is important to be kind to yourself and understand that there’s much more to life than getting the perfect internship or joining a prestigious club on campus. Ultimately, you might’ve gotten rejected for reasons beyond your control, so it’s important to not put yourself down when you receive a rejection. Pick yourself back up and keep moving forward! 

I hope these small tips will help you understand and cope with the rejections you might experience. Remember, each “no” you receive gets you one step closer to that “yes” you’ve always dreamed of!

Contact Samantha Herrera at 


FEBRUARY 17, 2023