Dealing With Rejection

Sweet Sorrow

I remember when I was desperately seeking my way out of big law, I was searching for and applying to jobs pretty much every single day.  I was rejected countless times, but I kept trying because I knew there might be other jobs out there that would be a better fit for me, and for which I would be a better fit.

I did not receive any response to 98% of my job applications.  I finally received a response, and it was from my dream company – Google!  They wanted to do a phone interview with me.  I was absolutely floored that they even considered my application considering the number of applications they receive every day!  Apparently I made the first cut, and I thought I was on the right track.  Google was the light at the end of my big law tunnel and I was going to do everything I could to get that job.

The phone interview went well, and I was invited to the Google campus for an in-person interview with 3 attorneys on Google’s legal team.  I was ecstatic.  Researching, studying and preparing for this interview became my full-time job.  I couldn’t have done anything more to prepare for that interview.

But when it came to interview time, I was challenged by the questions the attorneys asked me.  They asked me to answer hypothetical questions that I would most likely have to deal with if I worked as a member of their legal team.  I tried my best to answer the questions in an intelligent and thoughtful manner, but the interview was definitely the most difficult interview I’ve ever experienced.  That being said, I thought I did fairly well and expected to hear a positive response.

So when I heard back from the recruiter that they decided to pass on my application because of my lack of experience, I was devastated.  I felt rejected.  My way out of big law felt closed off yet again.  I started criticizing myself for not being able to make that amazing opportunity a reality.  I became even more depressed when I had to go to work the next day, knowing that my stay there was once again indefinite, and my dreams of presenting my (already drafted) resignation letter to my boss saying I’m going to Google came crashing down.

Looking back almost a year and a half after that experience occurred, I can see that perhaps life was trying to lead me away from the law.  Maybe, I was starting to realize, there was an alternate career path that was awaiting me that would allow the space for a greater contribution to others and to the world than the law ever could.  And if I had obtained that job at Google, I might not have ever pursued that alternate path.

When life deals us blows, most of us have fear-based reactions and start being hard on ourselves, and then try to numb the pain through drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or other means. This is not a healthy cycle.  I’m sure many of the new law grads can relate, given the horrible job market and the number of rejections they’ve probably received for their applications.

A better way to deal with rejection is to trust that it might be a sign that something is not the right fit for us, and maybe we need to take the road less-traveled instead.

We also have to be proud of ourselves for putting ourselves out there, even after countless rejections, instead of taking rejections personally.  Every time we think we fail, it actually means we are on the right track, because we are putting ourselves out there and trying to change the things that aren’t working in our lives.

If you have friends that are unemployed law grads or if you know a lawyer seeking a way out of big law, please send them over to the blog, and share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below!  I’m sure they would appreciate it.

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