Failure, the fog through which we glimpse success
Failure — I had an epiphany during a coffee chat I was in recently. The other party hopped on the call, and we made quick introductions. I talked about my background, my career path, college life, a little bit of my personal life, interview paths and a couple of offers that came along the way. After the call, I thought to myself, “Damn, that’s a lot of cool stuff you have done Seni.” I believe if we share our paths and success stories, it can be really inspiring for those coming after us, our peers, and often those in front of us.
However, I also believe that showing the struggles, the trials & tribulations, the fears, the failures, and more during that journey paints a more complete and inspiring story. My LinkedIn about section has a motto of how I live my life “My aspiration in life is to be a trailblazer. A reason other people are inspired to “just do it”!” So when I tell my story, I want to do more than paint the glamorous paths. I want to show the not-so-picture-worthy times that have gotten me here. These give me a boost when those rejections, failures, etc., come — which they will because that is life, and that is how we grow.
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I currently work for Microsoft as a Program/ Product manager, and it’s cool because when I tell some people that, their faces light up. I have also gotten the “I applied for Microsoft and got rejected. I don’t know if big companies are for me”. I interned for Microsoft last year (2020) and then went on to work there. However, most people do not know that that was my third time applying to Microsoft. My first two times applying to Microsoft (one of which I had a referral for), I never even got a call or email back talk less of an interview. Getting ghosted two years in a row can be demoralizing and can affect your confidence, but I kept going for it because I wanted it. The two biggest things I want anyone reading this to know is:
- “You, yes you!” are worthy of any major company or corporation you set your mind on. I am an international student that went to a non-target school, and I made it there.
- The second thing is, if you get rejected, know that it is okay! Most of the people you see in the spaces you want to be in have been rejected multiple times. May the rejection never stop you from dreaming and achieving what could be.
I have written about how I got an offer from Apple in 2019 — I will never forget when I got that call. Truly a gratifying and thrilling moment because my response to picking that call was, “wait, this is Apple from California?” I was so pumped, and man, am I thankful for that. I got the offer through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, where a couple of students are selected from Historical Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) to intern at Apple — to have been among the select few chosen was great. But this story wasn’t all roses. The year before, I had applied to the same program and got rejected, and it definitely hurt a lot. Even the year I got the offer (before it all worked out) I was scared of failing the interviewing, and I tried to push it off. See more details about that interview experience here.
This story is to highlight that not all the “success stories” you hear were smooth.
I can write multiple parts about “failure stories,” like how I applied to be a Thurgood Marshall College Fund Scholar 3 times and was never selected (despite me thinking the interview I did for that program is one of the best I have ever done). Or how I applied to Atlassian, spoke to a recruiter at a conference about moving my application forward, and 30 minutes after that conversation, I was rejected. Or how I have an email folder of rejection emails from multiple recruiting years that tallies about 100 or more. There are numerous stories.
The crazy part about this is, it is not unique to me. I once heard “failure is the fog through which we glimpse success.” I have achieved a lot that I am proud of, but many of these achievements came with their own set of failures, fears, setbacks, and more. So, to you starting an application, applying for undergraduate/masters/Mba/Ph.D., applying for an internship or full-time, trying to start a company, or going after pretty much any goal — do not let a couple of no’s, rejections or fears stop you.
Many before you have faced those and overcame — so you can and will too!
As always, may the force be with you, champ!
Olaseni Adeniji (#senispeaks)
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