Monday, October 19, 2009

Rejection: Why B-School Sometimes Reminds Me of Dating...

So, not that this ever happens to me (lol), but have you ever found yourself in a position where you've recently begun "talking" with someone new, feel like everything is where it should be: similar interests, matching ideals, cohesive visions of the future, you've spoken on different occasions and everything just seems to click for you -- then suddenly out the blue, you get that phone call, text, email, instant message, smoke signal, or message in a bottle letting you know, "hey, you're great, but..." at that point you already know where the conversation is about to go and your mind starts to run... How could this happen?! again?!?! and of all people, why me?!?!

It is an age old question, that many people struggle with, especially top MBA students. Why? Well, it just comes down to the fact that when we as humans see something that we like, appreciate, feel a strong connection with, and know that the future with this as a part of our life can only be sweeter we expect reciprocity to occur, especially with students in top nationally ranked MBA programs and their egos! Unfortunately not only does rejection occur in this sense, but it happens in college MBA programs on a regular basis.

Most business school MBA students have fought tooth and nail to get where they are currently at and being accepted to a top business grad school leaves many feeling like they have arrived. Let's face it, it is a tumultuous process between the GMAT, essays, interviewing, school visits, networking, and schmoozing... once you get through all of that and get accepted you feel a great sense of accomplishment -- little do you realize it has all just begun!

As you begin your "b-school career", you hear about the boundless opportunities and begin to create your vision and plan of where you will be by the time you graduate. You formulate the classes you will take, the leadership positions you want to hold, the international programs you want to take part in, the case competitions that best suit what you're looking for, the jobs you'll apply for, the events you want to attend, in your head you choose the people who you want in your groups in different classes, and you even begin to choose the folk you'll want to hang with. You end up doing all of this because there is typically a reason you come to b-school and you create this career/life road map based off of the opportunities that you think will best get you there... but guess what? So has everyone else in b-school! This creates a very highly competitive environment in which everyone may be vying for spots that many others are as well. This can only lead to some of those that threw their name in the hat being rejected. This throws many people off, because they feel like they had it in the bag or all signs pointed to yes for them and now they are wondering, "why me?"

The magic though in being rejected, not only in b-school, but anywhere in life is the lesson learned from it. Don't beat yourself up in anguish, don't become bitter and angry at the world. Ask yourself, why do you think I didn't get that job offer; why didn't I get onto the GLOBASE team; why didn't my slate win the elections; just ask why... If you can't answer it for yourself, b-school is one of the few places in life that you can actually ask someone may it be a professor, staff member, or fellow classmate. It's school and it's meant to be a learning environment, usually these channels will be fairly transparent with you, delivering a message that you sometimes don't want to hear but need to.

As Willie Jolley states, "Every setback is a setup for a comeback" - This is a mantra I live each day by, regardless if I succeed or fail because you are guaranteed to fail at something sooner or later, but it's how you react to that failure that determines if later on you will actually be successful!

So the next time you get that phone call, text, email, instant message, etc (I'm speaking figuratively here)... that starts off, "hey, you're great but..." just smile to yourself because you already know that you've already made it this far and this is only a slight bump in the road on your road map, just stay steadfast and true to what drives you, and the only thing that can hold you back will be yourself.

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