In my junior year of college, I knew I needed to prepare myself to have a job when I finished school. My goal was to try to get a job at a technology company that summer. The school that I went to had an annual job fair (yes like once a year) in which only a handful of companies showed up. Although my school was in an up-and-coming technology area we were lucky if even one technology company showed up to the job fair. At this point in time the Internet was somewhat commonplace but online job search wasn’t quite a thing. So with a stack of resumes, I hit the pavement in search of a job. In hindsight maybe my approach was a little naive, but I put forth the effort in the best way that I knew how. I knew where the technology companies were in my area and I would show up at the front desk dressed ready for an interview and ask about any job opportunities. I even offered to leave my resume. Sometimes I was able to speak to someone nice enough to not crush my hopes in front of me but never contact me again. Other times I would be told, “We are not hiring”.
There was one place in particular that I remember to this day. Dressed in my job search attire I walked into the office and did the same spill had done several times before. This time I was able to speak with someone responsible for hiring. “We don’t have room for anyone at this time” she explained after asking her to consider hiring me. At this point, I knew getting experience was more important than making money. I had heard the story about how Puff Daddy had worked at the radio station for free before getting his big break. With this in mind I responded,
I am willing to work for free
“We don’t have room for free” was her response. Devastated I walked back to my car thinking, “No room for free?”. How do you not have room for free?
That rejection hit harder than the others. I could understand that I didn't have the best resume or that I didn't come from a big school but to say they had no room for free meant they thought I would be a waste of “space”. I was confident that I could be an asset to the company and add value but to them, I wasn’t even worth the free potential.
What’s the point of this story? That was a pivotal moment in self-confidence. Had I not believed in my worth and abilities I could have easily been demoralized and lost all confidence. Instead, I used that moment to motivate me to work harder and so that nobody could deny my value. You are worth every penny, don’t let anyone deny your value.