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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Head Up Champ: Handling Rejection in the Internship Search

This article is powered by the SMU Sport Management Program.

By: Austin Weaver, @AustinTWeaver

As summer internship application season starts to heat up, there are a couple things we all need to be reminded of sometimes.

While I wish I could offer advice on how to land that dream internship, I’m still trying to figure that out myself. What I can offer is the lessons I have learned after failing to land that dream internship for the last several years.

1. “We had many fine candidates, including yourself, but we have decided to move forward with candidates that better suit our needs.”

There is always that moment of brief excitement when you see an email from a team with the subject line Re: Summer Internship, but many times that excitement is going to quickly change to disappointment.


No is the answer you are going to hear over and over again, it is a part of this process. This is probably the hardest thing to deal with, and something I continue to struggle with. It’s also the one piece of advice I’ve been given time and time again.

2. It isn’t personal

I think it’s safe to say that we all hate being rejected, and no matter if it’s the first or 100th time, it hurts. One of my biggest weaknesses is that I try and figure out the exact reason I wasn’t good enough. I’m slowly learning that my worth is not measured by how many internship or job offers I get. Heck, how many times is someone making a decision based solely on a resume, without ever actually getting to meet me and get to know me as a human being. Don’t take rejection as an attack on your worth, and don’t let it stop you from continuing to push towards your goal.

3. Let go of failures, and celebrate the victories (at least for a minute)

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

It may be cliché at this point, but Michael Jordan’s quote is the perfect mindset to take into the job search process. To be successful finding an internship or entry level job, you only have to make that one shot. If you dwell on the misses, you might just miss your shot at glory.

With that said, when you do make that shot, and realize some success, (no matter how big the success I.E. internship offer, interview request) celebrate that moment, and know that you have done something right. Don’t gloat or get caught up in the success because there is still work to be done.

4. Celebrate the success of others

If you want to work in sports you are probably a competitive person, who wants to be the best and land that internship. When we see someone else get it, I know how hard can be to be legitimately happy for them. However, a job is a job and you can’t let someone else’s success dictate your happiness.

There are a lot of other great bits of advice out there, feel free to continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #MyJobSearch.

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