Boo Fuckin' Hoo
April 21, 2009
CAMBRIDGE - They have managed to get into one of the world's most selective (most expensive) colleges. Opportunity is knocking at their door.
But at some point in their life, though perhaps later than most, Harvard students will face the stinging slap the rest of the world feels regularly: rejection. (shake it off, twit)
The dirty secret is out. Harvard students fail sometimes. They are denied jobs, fellowships, A's they think they deserve. They are passed over for publication, graduate school, and research grants. And when that finally happens, it hurts. Big time. (there's a support group for that. It's called "Everybody")
To help students cope (weep), Harvard's Office of Career Services hosted a new seminar last week on handling rejection, a fear job-seekers are feeling acutely in the plummeting economy. The advice from panelists could have come from a caring, patient (incredibly wealthy) parent. No rejection is the end of the world, they said, even though it might feel that way at the time. (I think my dad had the same fucking speech after I lost our Little League championship. Not kidding)
Participants, who wore snappy buttons with the word rejected stamped in red (scarlet?), also received a road map of sorts on handling failure, a pink booklet of rejection letters and personal stories from Harvard faculty, students, and staff members. (one story: "I got turned down for a job and I went out and tried for another one." End of story. Wasn't that helpful?)
Among the tales of woe: the 2004 alumnus and aspiring actor rejected for a barista gig at a Los Angeles Starbucks for being overqualified (um....everyone who works at Starbucks is overqualified. They pour coffee. No offense baristas....Baristas....jesus. Really? We're going to give this term to these workers as if they're a sommelier) and the medical school professor who was wait-listed at every medical school he applied to.
Senior Olga Tymejczyk (Irish?) arrived at the seminar early. With just a month and a half until graduation, Tymejczyk has applied for 10 jobs, but has no offers. (ten job applications? Fuck. You're toast. That's it. Just give up.)
"Rejection is inevitable sometimes, even if you go to Harvard," said Tymejczyk, a Latin American studies major who wants to work in higher-education administration or healthcare research. She has two more interviews this week, and she is hoping for the best but bracing for more bad news. (Expect the worst. That'll get you the gig. Employers LOVE underconfidence.)
Panelist Pat Hernandez knows a thing or two about setbacks. The 2004 Harvard graduate was rejected by all three graduate schools she applied to two years ago, after losing out on numerous consulting jobs.
"It's something many people are ashamed or reluctant to talk about," said Hernandez, who serves as a resident tutor for Harvard undergraduates. "Those who deal with rejection more frequently take it in stride and bounce back better." (Harvard-educated, indeed)
Hernandez spent the last two years conducting academic research and applied to graduate schools again. She plans to attend Harvard Business School in the fall for a doctorate in organizational behavior and management. (Jesus....here's an idea: LEAVE SCHOOL! If it's so fucking awful)
Another panelist, Harvard statistics professor Xiao-Li Meng (Jewish?), took a humorous approach on the sore subject. His two-page take on rejection (that's a good use of your time, Xiao) , printed in the pink booklet, starts with this theorem: "For any acceptance worth competing for, the probability of a randomly selected applicant being rejected is higher than the probability of being accepted." (humorous? How about downright fucking hilAAAAARIIIIOUS!!!!?!? He should write for Conan!)
Hernandez and Meng said students should learn to see rejection as an opportunity to improve themselves, so that by the time they summon the courage to try again, they will be better candidates. (This is a revolutionary idea....wait...I think I heard this on Oprah) Or they can view failure as a blessing, like the would-be barista who reconsidered his goals and launched a tutoring company called, appropriately enough, Overqualified. (read: snobby)
But how does one move forward, implored another graduate student facing rejection after rejection, when everyone else in the world thinks: "Surely, you have a Harvard degree. You'll get a job." (how does one move forward? Jesus Christ on a cracker....grow a pair, would ya'? Love to have you in a foxhole with me. Damn.)
Abigail Lipson - director of the Bureau of Study Counsel, which cosponsored last week's seminar - had some advice in the pink bulletin: "We learn to recognize our bad feelings as an indication that we care, we have high standards and high hopes, and we expect a lot of ourselves and of the world, rather than assuming that we are hopelessly untalented or unworthy." (turn that statement around and you might get closer to the truth. Recognize your bad feelings that you might actually not have the fucking cajones to pull off the job. Just a thought.)
Hard as it is for some to believe, there are candidates more worthy than Harvard students, Professor Meng quipped, in language befitting his field. "Statistically you are rejected, and probablistically it is fair." (Professor Meng needs to be slapped. Hard....often)