Rejections are never easy to accept. The reason we often apply to positions in the first place is that we feel suitable or sufficiently qualified for a role. When we have painstakingly spent hours on an application, a rejection even before an interview or assessment day can be brutal. However, Robin Huggins who is currently the Head of Business Development at MBN Solutions was a recent speaker at the Creative Data Academy in Edinburgh and he told us something that really struck a chord with me… “no is not forever, it just means not now”.
As a Law student, rejections for the coveted law jobs and work experience placements almost seemed to appear hand in hand. The simple truth nowadays are that there are so many keen, bright and amazing candidates for each role that landing a position is tough. From the first day we entered Law school as fresh-faced Sixth Form leavers, we were immediately introduced to law jargon such as “Training Contracts” (TCs), “Vacation Schemes”(a.k.a. vac schemes which are normally one or two weeks worth of work experience in a law firm) and commercial awareness. At the same time, we were told that competition was fierce and to do everything from getting high grades to volunteering at a local legal advice centre but to also stand out as much as possible whether that meant being a professional dog walker or founding the University Extreme Ironing Society.
As a solid 2:1 student with extra-curricular activities ranging from leading a team to teach English in Nicaragua, serving on several society committees and winning an internal mooting competition, to founding and running a commercial enterprise project – feedback from the careers service and Law firm graduate recruitment teams has been positive… yet at the same time I have been one of the many that have not secured a vac scheme. Does this mean there’s something wrong with me? Am I being too picky on the firm? Will I ever become a Solicitor? Should I be doing something different with my life instead?
This is when “no is not forever, it just means not now” really spoke to me. Maybe I haven’t secured a vacation scheme but that time has been so far from being wasted! In that time, I have had an amazing time on fully funded scholarship programmes to represent the University at an international summer school on the Greek refugee crisis and been flown out to Canada for a global summit. I have completed paid work over the summers to combine my interest in supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying to university whilst financially putting aside my earnings for my personal future. Would I have had time or opportunity to do these things if I had a vac scheme? No. Am I still able to do a vac scheme and become a solicitor? Definitely!
There are always so many people applying for these positions, that sometimes the application is just down to luck. HR managers that I have spoken to in the past have said that many people re-apply for roles and get in a year later when there has been a change of circumstances or they become clearer about what type of person they are (as cliche as that sounds). Sometimes, a role has already been assigned for someone in-house. Sometimes other people are more qualified or appropriate for the role than you. Sometimes a connection has put them in front of you in the line. Sometimes it’s down to a certain preference of the employer in which case it’s almost a blessing in disguise – if they didn’t feel that you would be suited to their office, the chances are that you may not have been happy in the role if you had got it.
I am a strong believer in working hard but that there is also a time for everything. A twinge of sadness almost always accompanies a rejection, but prolonged time sulking over it will not change anything. I am fortunate enough to know what I want to work towards and I really hope that in ten years, I will be able to look back from my office as a Commercial Law solicitor, truly appreciating the hard work and the journey it has taken to get there. A “no doesn’t mean forever, it just means not now”… and I don’t know when but one day it will be a yes!