Intern Talk: How to Bounce Back After Rejection

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“Thank you for applying, but we have decided to move forward with other candidates.”

After months of applying to agencies across the country, perusing the Internship Center for countless hours and practicing interviews with family and friends, my last hope of getting my dream internship disappeared when I read that sentence. Had I wasted all of that time striving for something that would never come true?

Heading into PRSSA Leadership Rally one month later, I still couldn’t shake that feeling of rejection. I was excited to start out the year as vice president of career services but I was still disappointed to not spend the summer interning at a top agency.

It wasn’t until Brandi Boatner, Digital Experience Manager for IBM, stepped on to the stage at Rally in Scottsdale that my perspective did a 180.

Turns out, I wasn’t alone in my failure. Brandi had recently not passed her APR accreditation test, which resulted in her crying on the ground of a busy New York street only to be escorted away by police.

Luckily for me, NYPD didn’t play a role in my post-rejection meltdown but I could relate to how she felt. If you also didn’t get that job, internship or opportunity on which your heart was set, here are some things to remember during setbacks:

Stop comparing yourself.

Your friend’s internship might be one for the books but that doesn’t mean it would be the right fit for you. Comparing your situation to others will only deter you from focusing on the opportunities around you. Instead, gather wisdom. Pick their brain about their application process and the interview questions they were asked so that the next time you start to look for internships, you are more prepared and confident going through the process. Devaluing the season you’re in only takes away your ability to become an even better candidate later on.

Opportunities are closer than you think.

The week after I came home from Scottsdale, I landed a unique internship in Gainesville in the most millennial way possible; by responding to a tweet. This opportunity has allowed me to expand my skillset and also explore different interests, such as videography. Had I been offered my “dream” internship, I never would’ve discovered a passion that could potentially change my career path.


Additionally, don’t forget to utilize the resources provided by PRSSA and other on-campus organizations that are designed to assist you. For example, the Champions for PRSSA are a vast network of professionals who are here to help you succeed in the field. Connect with them and your local PRSA Chapter to find any positions in which you might be interested.

Don’t doubt yourself.

The biggest mistake you can make is calling into question your decision to pursue public relations as a major. If you are receiving strong mentorship and setting tangible goals, as well as staying genuinely interested in growing in this dynamic field, you will find a company that values you and your talents.

As you continue your internship search for the upcoming semester, just remember failure and success are not mutually exclusive.

Although rejection isn’t ideal, you might just have a great story to share afterwards.

Demi Wolfe is the 2017-2018 vice president of career services and a senior public relations major at the University of Florida. Follow her on Twitter @DemiWolfe62 or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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