Not quite hitting the mark: a common theme in the story of an undergraduate

Undergraduate life can be pretty tough on the soul. From getting A*s in 3000-word English essays that you spent all of Year 13 on, to learning to deal with bashing out an essay in a week and only getting an average 2:1, our work just doesn’t quite hit the mark. Over my four years of studying I’ve said on multiple occasions: “as long as it’s above 40%, that’s fine”. Never in my life have I set myself up to just about scrape a pass for assignments than at university.

However, it’s not just that we’re not as bright as we thought we were when we aced our GCSES with A*s and As or got A*AB at A-Level, it’s everything that comes with being a finalist: ruthlessly filtering through graduate schemes, internships, and part-time jobs, to end up flat on our faces with a chapter in our lives entitled “Rejections 1-242098”.

As my fourth year as an English and Spanish undergraduate began, people didn’t hold back to continue asking the same old question: have you decided what you’re doing yet? And with this question comes the inevitable sheer panic as we compete with our peers for a graduate scheme that we’re not even sure we want. The pressure to have nabbed a grad scheme by the end of the year was overwhelming and exhausting. It didn’t even matter that you didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life; apply for a grad scheme anyway. Luckily, I came to my senses and spent my time reminiscing about sunny days in Mexico as a tanned Year Abroader.

A few months later and the worry set in again. My friends and peers were suddenly getting their shit together and figuring out their lives while that future chapter of my life sat on the backburner with barely any structure let alone an opening line.

Opportunities started coming my way, and I went in search for them resulting in applying for a social impact programme based in India and organised by the uni. My wanderlust was becoming uncontrollable and I wanted to cure just a tiny bit of it but heading back to where my roots lie. Of course the programme sounded extremely engaging and challenging, and with most costs paid for, I’d be a fool to not apply. But inevitably, I didn’t quite hit the mark.

We have received an unusually high number of applications and the selection process has been very competitive this year.  After reviewing your submitted application, we have decided that we will not shortlist you this time. Due to the large number of applications, we are not able to provide individual feedback on your application.

Okay, that’s fair enough. But, really? Not even a few lines to say what was missing from my application, what made me not quite hit the mark?

Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and I get another rejection email, this time for an internship at Penguin Random House. At least this time I received some feedback, even if it was a bit halfhearted. I actually answered questions pretty decently on the online application, and I scored above average for a number of things they were looking for like passion, persuasiveness and communication. Yet, I still didn’t quite hit the mark.

Those are only two out of a series of rejections I’ve received, and I know that as a whole, us nearly-graduates have been subject to thousands of disheartening emails showing us, once again, how we’re not quite hitting the mark.

But I can’t leave without saying, like good ol’ Ross Geller does: ‘you’re gonna go on like a thousand interviews before you get a job’. So don’t lose hope.