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We’ve all worked hard to apply for our internships, fellowships, jobs, and research opportunities. We get elated once we get a call back to schedule an interview, knowing that you’re one of the top three or five that they’re looking to hire. You try hard and excel at the interview, but sometimes even after putting your best foot forward, you get let down with a rejection and another individual with better-suited qualifications and skills obtains the job. While it’s definitely a bummer, what most people don’t realize is that it doesn’t end there; the interviewer or supervisor picked you specifically for an interview because they were impressed with the skill sets and what you could possibly offer to the organization. So what could you do?

Here’s what you shouldn’t do: ignore said company or organization and never think about it again. Evaluating your performance and spot-checking is an important activity to do for sure, but not a lot of people give thought to writing thank you letters – particularly after the interview and/or after the rejection. These activities put you in ‘good graces’ with the employer and would most likely consider you in future opportunities.

Last fall, I applied for a spring internship on-campus that involved research with HIV/AIDS but its emphasis was mostly on website development of the organization. I wrote a descriptive letter after the interview, thanking the interviewer for their time, what impressed me the most about the company, and reiterated my skills that we talked about or the ones they seemed the most impressed with. Even though I didn’t get the internship, the interviewer was delighted in hearing about my global and public health and policy interests and other experiences.

After hearing from me, she offered me a research assistantship position that was specifically tailored to me and my skill sets. The research position I ended up getting allows me to work hand-in-hand with other international companies and to help develop a curriculum on forming HIV/AIDS literacy in the community. It also provides me with ample support in the organization and the opportunity to define and expand upon my interests. So if you’re second-guessing sending that thank you letter because you think you’re being too pushy, take the chance and send it. The worst thing that could happen is that you don’t get a response.


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