What To Do When You Miss Out On Your Dream Job

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Man with head in his hands.

It’s OK to feel bad for yourself, but that can’t be your only plan.

After my exhausting and stressful internship hunt, I finally found the right one: a 12-month full-time role at a tech company that used both my bachelor’s degree in chemistry and my MBA.

After two rounds of interviews, the company narrowed their selection down to me and one other candidate. Going into the last interview for this dream internship, I felt confident. In fact, I felt so confident that I turned down an offer from another firm.

You can imagine my disappointment when I lost the position to the other candidate.


Did I really gamble a full-time summer income to chase a job I thought was cool, instead of one that was reliable? It’s been a long time since I last shot myself in the foot financially—but this appears to be just that.

Turning down a “sure thing” for a “maybe” would have made a great story if I had been successful. In retrospect, it looks careless. This might be one more point to add to my list of mistakes in the internship hunt.

Now, I need to find a way to create a profitable summer without a job. Luckily, I had a back-up plan. If your dream internship went away like mine did, maybe this will help you too.

1. Stay Busy

I know the most detrimental thing I could do to my résumé (and to my well-being) would be to do nothing. So, I immediately began seeking opportunities that generated income, provided experience, and prevented gaps in my work history.

For me, that meant placing myself in three summer school classes for my MBA. I also found contract work helping a friend launch a new business and enrolled in a month-long program for a professional certification. Staying busy shouldn’t be a problem.

Do you have contacts out there that could help you find work? Or, if you’re in school, perhaps there are classes you could take that would get you closer to your degree faster. The key is to make good use of your time “off.”

2. Keep In Contact

I don’t know how your dream internship went away. Perhaps it was as crushing as my experience. No one wants to lose as a finalist, but there was a silver lining: making it that far meant the company liked me.

In fact, after they offered the internship to the other candidate, the VP who interviewed me in the last round called to discuss potentially creating a part-time role for me at the firm. While not the ideal full-time internship I wanted, I felt reassured that I wasn’t interviewing badly or lacking the qualifications they were looking for.

So, if you made it really far in the interview process, only to not get the job, don’t write the company off. Instead, keep in contact and see if another opportunity presents itself. It may still be the right place for you after all.

3. Don’t Feel Bad For Yourself

Sadly, it looks like I might have to commit to the frugal student lifestyle with even more zeal than previously expected. Still, I gave myself only 24 hours to wallow in self-pity before initiating my plan.

This would be my first summer off since high school. That plus not landing my dream internship definitely made it even more tempting to indulge in 4 months watching Netflix. But I can’t let myself waste this time—and neither should you.

Opportunities are all around us; however, we won’t find them from the couch. Instead, we’ll make the most of our summers, even if life turned our dream jobs into nightmares.

Haven’t landed a job or internship yet for the summer? It’s not too late! Search for one on saltmoney.org

(Photo: Wikimedia)

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