On an early morning, I was sitting in my stats lecture getting ready to start a project with a couple classmates until an email notification popped up on my screen. It was from a business fraternity that I was rushing and I just had my first round of interviews the night before. I have rushed this business frat last semester and made it to the second and third rounds but didn’t receive a bid, so I felt confident that my interviews went well and I thought that them seeing me rush for a second time would give me a higher chance of making it past the first round and even receiving a bid. I went out for celebratory drinks with a friend because it was the first time I’ve ever felt confident after an interview. My heart raced as I opened the email and it said the following (name of organization and individual has been left out):
Dear Ameris Jimenez,
Thank you for rushing our fraternity! After a very competitive pool of applicants and a careful consideration of all candidates, we have decided to move on with other candidates. Please feel free to rush again next semester!
My heart sank. I stared at that rejection email for what felt like an eternity then I deleted it and shut my laptop closed. I felt a range of emotions such as confused, angry, depressed, but mostly I felt a huge sense of failure. This was the 4th time I’ve rushed a professional fraternity and did not received a bid.
What did I do wrong? Did I not say the right things? I was passionate and honest in my answers. I mentioned my leadership position as president of Mogul at UIUC and how I wanted to help empower women on campus. I talked about my failures and how it gave me the strength to take risks. I even talked about my other interests besides business such as my passion for music to show I was well-rounded. I thought my answers were concise and well-spoken even under pressure but they weren’t good enough to make it past the first round. I didn’t spend too much time on one question and was able to get through most of them before the proctor told us to rotate. How could I possibly give off the best impression to the 5 pairs of actives where I only had 2 and half minutes to give a great sales pitch of myself?
I started to feel panicky and emailed the marketing manager of Mogul, Danica, because I desperately needed someone to talk to. I even frantically texted Tiffany Pham’s brother David so I could get a hold of Danica faster. Thankfully, David was able to get a hold of Danica and he told me that I could call her right away. Once I heard Danica’s voice on the other line, I started uncontrollably crying and told her what happened. I ran to the bathroom so no one would see me.
Danica calmed me down and told me that this wasn’t the end all be all. That this business fraternity actually did me a favor because I didn’t need the prestige to get me places. I had already accomplished so much on my own and I didn’t need this fraternity to give me the affirmation I so desperately craved. The quote that she recited to me and stuck in my head was:
“I am the author of the only dictionary that defines me”
After hearing that from one of the strongest and most successful woman I have ever met, it made me realize that me failing to receive a bid from a business fraternity did not define me, my successes, or even my future because I am capable of creating my own path to success. Danica told me to create a diary entry of the things that define me and to email it to her. In my diary I wrote that I was brave, strong, intelligent, and compassionate.
This phone call changed my perception of what it means to feel accomplished, my sense of self, and made me realize that I was beyond fortunate to have a great mentor.
Since then, I have received an interview for an internship and my application has been further considered at one of the top companies I want to work for. I was even invited to visit the WGN Chicago news station to meet with the morning news anchor and talk about a prospective career in media and news broadcasting. How did I get this far? By cold applying and utilizing my resources such as LinkedIn to connect with the employees who work at the companies I applied for. It takes being initiative and persistent in the real world to get what you want. Don’t have those tight connections like people in prestigious organizations do? Who cares? Go out and make those connections yourself. I couldn’t let this small mishap bring me down because I knew I had that fire, I just had to show it to those who were willing to see it.
In college, where we are in our own little bubble as undergrads, we fail to see that we are capable of creating our own fate ourselves and that we don’t need to conform to what we think is the right way to be successful during college and after. I guess fate was just telling me that I wasn’t meant to be in a selective organization in order to feel established. I was meant to do things my own way and that’s why I feel so accomplished to have founded the UIUC chapter for Mogul.
As Moguls, we cannot let failure or self-doubt hinder us from seeing our talents and abilities. Just because a company or an organization didn’t want you, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other places out there that do. Like I said in my interview, failure has done nothing but given me strength and it has given me the strength to take my talents elsewhere. I can now focus on being an exceptional president for the UIUC Mogul Chapter, I can now focus on helping other women find their fire, and most importantly I can now focus on defining who I am in my own dictionary. A Mogul.