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How to help your mentee deal with job rejection

At GEM, we believe that young women should be ambitious and unafraid to go after their dream job. As many of us know, ambitious people often face a lot of rejection before they land in a place they want to be. Learning to deal with job rejection is an important part of a young woman’s professional development.

With summer fast approaching, our GEM girls have started searching for summer jobs. Mentors play an important role in all stages of their mentee’s job search, from helping to prepare for the search to dealing with job rejection to celebrating success. Here are some ways to help your mentee deal with job rejection.

Validate her feelings

Many high school students searching for their first summer job may have never faced job rejection before. Being rejected can really hurt, especially the first time it happens. It’s important to let your mentee know that it’s okay to feel down. Interviewing can be very tiring and it’s easy to feel like giving up after not getting the job you wanted. Remind your mentee that she’s not alone; a 2014 Times Higher Education poll found that students apply for 12 jobs on average before getting their first role. Almost everyone goes through job rejection a few times in their lives!

Help her put her rejection into perspective

A high school student may have difficulty seeing the bigger picture, especially if this is her first attempt at getting a job. Remind your mentee that job interview outcomes are not a measure of her success or her professional growth. Interview decisions are made based on all kinds of reasons that may have nothing to do with the interviewee. Tell your mentee that she should measure her success based on her own goals and accomplishments unrelated to the outcome of a job interview.

If you can, share your own story of job rejection with your mentee to help her put her situation in perspective. Emphasize the fact that you continued to learn and grow professionally after the rejection and eventually ended up where you wanted to be. It just takes a bit of resilience and patience!

Talk about next steps

The most important part of dealing with a job rejection is to learn from the experience and continue moving forward. Encourage your mentee to request feedback from the interviewer so she knows what she needs to work on. Although many interviewers will not provide detailed feedback, it’s worth a shot!

Start talking to your mentee about her plan B (or C or D or E!) and discuss how she is going to prepare for her next interview. It’s important to stay positive and energized during a job search. After all, when one door closes, another one opens!

Sarah McNeil is a volunteer with GEM, a recent graduate from Mount Alison University and is currently pursuing her diploma in Corporate Communications at Seneca. She is an avid traveller, photographer and writer. Sarah has seen the power of mentorship in her own life and is thrilled about the opportunity to give back at GEM. Follow her on Twitter: @sarahleamc

Looking back on 2015

New Year, new beginnings; or so they say. I believe it’s less about new beginnings, and more about improving what’s already there. 2015 was a relatively calm year for me, yet at the same time very eventful. My resolution for 2015 was to get out of my comfort zone, and get more invested into my future. I had a resolution to stress less, and get more involved in my school and community. My main goal was to be more confident.

The beginning of 2015 didn’t start off as well as I had hoped.  My daily routine started out pretty drab. After I completed my volunteer work every day, I only really went to school and returned home. I started off 2015 just getting out of a state of mind that was not good for me at all. I lacked a lot of self-confidence and didn’t socialize much. If you’ve even been there, you know how much of a toll that can have on your mood. I was able to start 2015 with a fresh mind, but still had a lot of work to do.

I started off by looking for a job- which by the way, is a bad idea when you have no experience- I didn’t get any jobs or even job interviews. I blamed it on my lack of experience, but it also had a lot to do with my no-good resume. Instead I worked on passing my G1, and focused on my cooperative education placement for the following school year. I worked hard on it, and was able to get a placement at Sunnybrook hospital, which I really invested some hard work for during the duration of my placement. The following summer, by recommendation of a close friend, I applied to GEM. I had no idea about the internship opportunities available, but I really wanted to get into the program, for the opportunity, and also so I would have something to do with my free time. I ended up with an amazing mentor who I love talking to. I didn’t think I would be comfortable with a mentor, and doubted it at first. But what I’ve found is that my mentor is incredibly relatable, and we have more things in common than I thought. Sometime after I got accepted into GEM, and before I met my mentor, I applied for this internship opportunity, and got it.

All of those things happened in a span of only a couple of months, and I doubted myself all the way through. I even thought I would fail my G1- even though all my friends reassured me that it was incredibly easy. Although I did have many, many successes, I also had many failures. 2015 helped me understand that it’s not about those failures; it’s about the actions you take after those failures. It’s important to not let your failures keep you down.

Tabassum Lakhi is a Creative Writing Intern at GEM and also a GEMgirl.

Overcoming Obstacles

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” ~Michael Jordan

Obstacles present themselves in all shapes and sizes. Some are so small that we don’t think twice about how to tackle them, while others seem so big that they can be overwhelming. How we perceive an obstacle ultimately leads to our success. Determination and persistence are key ingredients in overcoming obstacles – as is the willingness to try, even if there is chance of failure. Fear of failure stops many of us of pursuing a goal when faced with an obstacle. Fear is the enemy of our ability to overcome challenges. We must be open to failure and to learn from those experiences in order to succeed. Problem solving can be a game of trial and error. There is no “one-fits-all” solution and it may require patience and multiple efforts to overcome the obstacle that stands between you and your goal.

I work in the investment industry and several years ago I decided to pursue the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. The program consists of three exams and each exam requires roughly 6 to 8 months of preparation. I was warned it was difficult. The failure rate is high – roughly 10% of those who start the program pass all three exams to earn their CFA charter. I wanted those three little letters behind my name and I was ready for work for it. However, there were many times I wanted to give up and I came up with many excuses of why I should: it was too difficult, required too much sacrifice, I was not smart enough, and the list goes on. I also encountered a major obstacle – the second exam, which I failed three times. I struggled. How had all that work amounted to nothing? Did I really just spend three years studying and had nothing to show for it? I was exhausted and my confidence was destroyed. Funny, how our own perceptions and attitude can be our worst enemy or our best ally. I decided I was not going to let this exam beat me and I picked myself up, which was not easy, made a plan of attack and I got back to work. I was more determined than ever. Turns out 4 times is the charm for me. I passed! The following year I passed the third exam and today I am a CFA charterholder. I am no different than you. I am in no way special. I have certain strengths and weaknesses just like anyone else. What I do have is a strong will and an aversion to not achieving my goals, whatever they may be.

Making a plan is instrumental, especially if you feel overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem you are faced with. Breaking it down into smaller steps will make it more manageable. Several small obstacles always look easier to solve than one large one, which tends to be more intimidating. Lastly, deciding if you can work out the problem on your own or if you require help will affect the process.

Each of us has the ability to overcome any obstacle that stands in the way of our success. Believe in yourself, don’t give up, and never be afraid to ask for help.

VPeric imageThis article is written by GEM Mentor, Vanja Peric, CFA and Assistant Vice President at Bell Kearns & Associates Ltd. She’s a mentor to GEMgirl Maryam Hasam, avid traveller and loves to help others through mentorship and story telling. 

Dare to Compete

By: Rochelle de Goias

I read Katty Kay and Claire Shipman ‘s book, the New York Times Bestseller The Confidence Code after meeting Katty Kay at a talk in Toronto. The part of this book that struck me the most was a study on US college women and the impact of their preconceived notions about their ability on their confidence. The conclusion was these women were less confident in general in their abilities which led them to be less confident when performing tasks and less likely to pursue opportunities.

For example, this group of women might say, “I not qualified enough for that job, so I wont apply.” or “I’m not good at math, so I won’t bother trying.”

This got me thinking – how many times have I turned down an opportunity because I didn’t feel confident in my ability? As it turns out, more often than I thought…

On December 24, 2014 I gave birth to a beautiful little baby boy. Which means for the last 9 months I haven’t been very physically active.

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to join her and some other women in a soccer game and I politely declined. I love soccer but I felt that I was not in my best physical form so I didn’t want to play. My internal dialogue went something like this: “I haven’t played soccer in months. My cardio sucks right now. I’m rusty. I won’t be as good as some of the other players and we will definitely lose.”

Even more recently, a friend asked me to run a 15K race with her this spring – something I normally would love to do. Nike was sponsoring a group of women, training them, and outfitting them. She wanted me on her team.   All I had to do was say yes. And I turned her down, emphatically.

My internal dialogue went something like: “I’m way to heavy to run right now, I’m weak, I’m barely getting to the gym, I definitely won’t make good time.”

And then it hit me.

I’m so afraid to lose, to fail that I turned down two great opportunities.

The lessons from The Confidence Code are simple. Confidence is about taking action, taking risks and being prepared to fail. Yes, I said being prepared to FAIL – something I haven’t been prepared to do lately.

According to the book, Hillary Clinton was afraid when she decided to run for Senate in 2000. She didn’t want to lose publicly and this fear nearly kept her back from trying. Then someone said to her: “Sure you might lose. So what? Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton. Dare to compete.”

That’s pretty good advice.

So along with a new baby, I also have a new mantra, dare to compete.

Grit Girl

“True talent is honed over time, through practice, through perseverance: through grit.”

We’ve all known people who seem to get whatever they want so effortlessly – it’s as if they weren’t even trying. They get the grades, the job, the glory, and we are left wondering how on earth we could possibly compete with such raw talent. Raw talent! Well, what if I told you: There is no such thing.

Sure, some people are born with natural abilities, but this isn’t the raw talent that we generally associate with young prodigies; and if it is, then it doesn’t necessarily last long. True talent is honed over time, through practice, through perseverance: through grit. You may be a natural-born genius, but you’re not going to go far if you sit on your butt all day without a care in the world.

I believe that many of us are thinking about it the wrong way. We believe that natural talent matters more than important qualities, such as determination and dedication. My mother always told me that you don’t have to be born with a natural aptitude for something in order to be successful at it. Like any good thing in life, excellence takes time. If you put in long hours of extra studying or consistent practicing, your perseverance will put you on par with or even surpass those who were born with talent all along. Malcolm Gladwell refers to this simple key to success as the 10,000-hour rule.

It doesn’t seem fair, though, does it? That some people are forced to put in a hundred times more effort to get to the same level that others are just born into. Rest assured, we have something that they don’t have. We have failures, and many of them. It is these failures that make us all the more resilient. Having tried something and failed but having had the resolve and the courage to try again, face another failure, and then another, and another: that is true grit. And in the long run, it’s the gritty girls who will triumph.