When rejection isn’t really rejection

jne+Duarte

Back in December, I applied for a Senior Designer position over at this really interesting company in Northern California. In preparation for my second– but first face-to-face– interview, I was asked to put together a solid presentation talking through some of the projects in my portfolio. While most people are put off by public speaking, I’ve had my fair share of exposure to it– what with being the daughter of a director, a member of multiple acting/improv troupes, and okay, one hell of a show woman in general– so I spent the time to really craft my story. Setting up the presentation, I was RIDICULOUSLY nervous. But when I finished presenting,  I was so extremely proud of my accomplishments simply because I had made myself more aware of my actions, and how the questions I asked, and decisions I made, lead to these strong visual and conceptual pieces.

Nothing could have prepared me for the pride I felt after that interview process. I must have done that presentation 6 times across 2 days, not counting my practice runs in the hotel room and to my lovely audience at home (yeah the dog and two cats totally count), and each time I found, and therefore appreciated, something different.

You’re not really supposed to gush about your work, your process, and your talents, but speaking about them to other people makes me think it’s the automatic antidote to unbridled narcissism.

The part that stays with me though, even now that it’s been 2 months since I visited, is the smiles on every single person’s face; the majority of them saying “Wow I AM INSPIRED!” as they walked out of the meeting room towards their desks,  and the curiosity and awe in their questions when I finished. But I think it was their faces and reactions to The Kubrick Project that will always remain the most special to me– it was the first time I truly presented it to a group of people, let alone a group of talented (TALENTED talented) industry people.

If only for this one small purpose presenting to the multiple teams at this company reiterated how special I am in this large crazy industry of design.  Not just because I work hard to master skills, then noodle around to master new skills, or that I am always looking to solve the problem no matter how ridiculous, daunting, or frustrating it seems, but that I’m even more than I even realize I am, perhaps even more than I even give myself credit for being (until my head explodes and I’m back to reality).

When the email came a few weeks ago, letting me know they had made the decision to go with another designer due to budget woes, I felt nothing but happiness. Not necessarily because I ducked out of a bad opportunity– completely on the contrary: any one of the teams I met would have been a warm welcome to the clique-y corporate culture that I’ve shied away from.  But because they loved and respected me so much, it hurt them to have to tell me no. How can I feel rejected by that? On the contrary, I felt extremely respected and appreciated.

So I wasn’t the perfect fit for the position, and let’s be clear– getting any position at that point was the least of my gains from that experience.  It was an unending, non-negotiable, organically validating stamp on everything I had been working towards for the last six years and to quote mastercard, that baby is priceless.

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