Looking for a co-op or internship is a lot like dating. You dress up, you meet new people in your field, and you try to convince them to pick you by highlighting the qualities that they are looking for. Sometimes things don’t work out. And whether it’s after the first meeting or the last round before making it official, getting rejected from a job opportunity you really wanted hurts. Here’s my horror story:
When I entered college I was an industrial engineering major interested in consulting. My freshman year I had an interview with a company I was really excited about. The on-campus interview went wonderfully. The interviewer seemed as excited as I was about the possibility of me coming to work for their company, and I got an email inviting me to interview at their offices the next week. I was told during my initial interview that they were continuing the process with the top four candidates from the on-campus interviews, so naturally I was ecstatic.
I arrived at the company’s offices dressed to impress and eager to please. After being called into the interview room, I met with the person I had interviewed with on campus. He was excited to see me and dove right into the first part of the interview. That part went as well as the on campus one had, and my heart was racing in the best possible way. I was one conversation away from landing a consulting gig at 18 that would lead me to what I imagined would be a glamorous career in consulting. The door opened and a middle aged man walked into the room. He gave his name, his position within the organization, and a bit about himself and where he went to school. He took one look at my resume and snorted at my GPA (3.4). Then he asked me, “What leadership roles have you held?” I started listing my roles from high school, and he stopped me. “What have your leadership roles been in college?” I paused. I had a leadership position in one of the clubs, but it was more of a prep position because the guy who held it was graduating that spring. As I thought about how to respond, my interviewer got up, walked out, and slammed the door.
I cried when I got back to my dorm after the interview. I was scared, scared that I was not employable despite having a good GPA from the #1 IE program in the country. What was wrong with me? What made me less desirable than the other girls on my floor, who by that time had all secured co-ops and internships with great companies? It wasn’t until I had landed a job with another company that I figured out it was him, not me. Like in dating, everyone is looking for something different. Some people are super picky, and there’s no sure-fire way to get around that. Just because you get rejected doesn’t mean you will end up alone or unemployed. The best thing to do is to dry clean your suit, practice your lines, and get back out there. When the right position comes along, you (and your new employer) will know. And then you’ll be so glad it didn’t work out between you and What’s-Their-Name.
This article was written by Virginia Dobson. She is a 4th electrical engineering student and in the honors program at Georgia Tech. She has done three coop rotations and was asked by her employer to do a fourth term with a major automation firm. As well, Virginia Dobson has experience in interviewing potential coop candidates with her bosses.