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How to deal with rejection

April 2021 | 4 mins read

Priyanshu Mahey
By Priyanshu Mahey
Second Year | Faculty of Science, Integrated Sciences
Rejection is something that everyone faces throughout their life, whether it’s by someone they’re interested in, a new job, an internship, or even their dream school. Rejections happen fairly often and for a burgeoning researcher like yourself, it will be a process that you will likely face at some point, but one you will undoubtedly grow and learn from.

Before getting my first research position, I emailed over 40 researchers and faced multiple rejections. As discouraged as I felt in the moment, I am so grateful that I pushed through the process because, trust me when I say this, it was worth it. Not only did I acquire my first research position in a laboratory that truly interested me, but it also opened up plenty of opportunities that have helped me continue on my research journey.

That being said, what did I learn about bouncing back from rejection?

Stay hopeful and motivated

The first thing to do is try to stay hopeful and motivated! A lot of people will lose motivation and may not want to continue to pursue something after constant rejection. Remember that you can be rejected hundreds of times but you only need to get accepted once.

Learn from the process

Learn throughout the process as best you can. While it’s possible to get rejected hundreds of times, ideally you don’t want to. Everytime you get rejected, look over your application and see if you can find areas for improvement. For example, see if there’s a specific section on your resume that can be added onto, or practice your interview skills to better share your experiences in the future. Keep in mind, sometimes rejection is completely out of your control and purely circumstantial. They don’t reflect on your capabilities as a student and potential researcher, so try not to take them personally!

Take a step back

If you’re continuously getting rejected and you’ve fixed up your resume, your interview skills are incredible as well, consider taking a step back. Reflect on the experiences and skills you have already acquired, and see if you can gain new ones to enhance your application. For example, programming and statistics skills are very helpful in obtaining research positions in computer science laboratories. Take a step back, develop some desirable skills, and then begin to reapply.

Get help

Get some help! One thing that I’ve personally found helpful is asking others. Reach out to your friends who are already involved in research and have experience contacting professors, and ask them for advice on getting a research position. With the support of others around me, I’ve been able to improve my approach and open several new doors for myself.

There are many opportunities out there!

Remember that there are a lot of opportunities out there! After getting rejected from a few, remember that you’ll continue to see new opportunities pop up throughout your university career. There is no “right time” to get into research, so feel free to take breaks, re-evaluate your goals, and start applying again whenever you’re ready.

Vials in a lab

These are all my major tips for how to bounce back after getting rejected! Just remember, rejections can be circumstantial or reflect your application, but they do not represent you. Try not to let rejection get in the way of the amazing researcher you may become.

 

For more personalized advice, feel free to check out our Research Coaches service and we’ll work with you one-on-one to develop your research goals and enhance your approach to research. Note: Research Coaches are only open to those with a URO membership.