I have had to restart this blog post five times. You see my theme is not exactly one filled with Christmas cheer. I opened my online calendar today and received a reminder from a fellow grad that my blog entry was due, topic: rejection. Lovely. My initial fear when writing this was that it will come across as patronising and twee. I don’t want to sound like your father after you were rejected at the school disco when you were 14. But equally, my hesitations aside, I think this post is important, if only to give those of you who have failed this time some sense of perspective.
Although this is not an easy topic, perhaps out of the grads I am one of the more suitably qualified candidates. I first started applying to advertising graduate schemes in the middle of my master’s degree, I was 22 and had little or idea about what the job entailed. I was rejected at the application stage and final stage by several agencies. I still have some of the letters in a drawer at home in Belfast.
When you are rejected from an agency, your first reaction is normally anger, then despair, followed by acceptance. I would argue that the important attribute of any advertising practitioner is tenacity. You come across rejection everyday, your brief is rejected, your client hates your ideas or the coffee machine won’t work. It happens. By getting rejected by agencies it’s a shot to your ego, after all you probably never failed anything at school or university. But you can turn the situation to your advantage.
After I was rejected, I forced myself to be brutally honest. What had I done wrong? Could I improve anything? Did I do enough research? Sometimes the questions answered themselves, I could have done more work and learnt the next time. But sometimes the questions weren’t so simple. Did I fit into the agency’s culture? I believe that this question is one of biggest reasons that people find themselves on the no pile at the interview stage and it’s extremely difficult to deal with. However, it can be a blessing in disguise.
You do not want to spend the best years of your life pretending that you are something you are not, just to placate a culture that has nothing in common with your personality. Concentrate on the agencies that do, and I can assure you that there are plenty of them out there.
Always try to retain a healthy sense of perspective. It’s very easy to get despondent and give up, but please don’t. Don’t forget the reasons that gave you the impetus to apply for advertising in the first place, if those reasons still get you excited, it’s definitely worth struggling and fighting for.
If you don’t believe me, listen to Rocky.