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85 Job Rejections Later, These Are The Valuable Lessons I Have Learnt

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I was rejected in 85 job applications. I stopped counting how many interviews I had attended till date. I studied journalism but never got into a media house. Things didn’t work in my favour so I decided to move out and look for a job. I became desperate enough to settle for a shitty place, just to stay employed.

I was stuck in the “can’t get a job because I have no experience, can’t get experience because I can’t get a job” trap.

It was really frustrating to invest so much thought, time, and energy towards finding a job and get rejected. The companies expect you to have a ton of experience or work for peanuts. I am going to share what I learnt from my mistakes so that others can learn from it.

Lesson 1: Start Before Placement

I learnt my lesson the hard way, but you don’t have to. If you are still in college, start applying before college gets over. Don’t expect your college to find a job for you, they don’t care once you are out. Starting early will also ease your stress levels. There’s a higher chance that your application will move forward if you apply earlier.

Lesson 2: Get Guidance From Industry Leaders

Find a supportive mentor who you could talk to about your career and who could guide you in developing skills and personality for achieving success. Connect and reach out on LinkedIn. People are eager to help – just don’t spam them with direct applications. I know that If I had reached out to seniors in the media industry and developed connections, I would have got the guidance I required. I never had anyone to guide or mentor me, not even friends. I was on my own.

Lesson 3: Work On Your Skills

For technical people, it’s important to keep practising to stay updated. For others, it’s important to work on your required skills and stay updated on latest events in the industry. Never get carried away by friends who encourage you to waste time by drinking and loitering, especially towards the end of college. When you are going to struggle with job hunting, none of these people will be there to help you. Use your resources because they are there for a reason! Getting interviews can be hard, and the last thing you want to do is blow an opportunity and have regrets about not practising enough.

Lesson 4: Build Your Network

Applying online doesn’t always have to be the go-to method. The best thing that works is word of mouth referral. Naukri, Monster and Times Jobs are full of spams, where you will get bombarded with irrelevant job consultancies which will exhaust your energy and time. Never underestimate your LinkedIn. Use it to build connections with all the seniors in your industry. The hiring process will go incredibly faster as well when they know you through LinkedIn.

Lesson 5: Build Your Resume

Never underestimate the importance of building your resume. Make sure your resume is up to date, clean, and has zero typos and errors. Make use of paid online tools to build your resume – it matters a lot. Tailor your resume to the job you are applying to and cut out what’s unnecessary or irrelevant.

Lesson 6: Never Lower Your Standards

There may be times when you are desperate for a job because you’ve remained unemployed for a long time but never settle for a lesser salary. Never take up a job if it isn’t exactly what you were looking for. In some ways, it can be a good thing, but in other ways, the job might not avoid gaps in your resume. The reality is that once you settle for something lesser, you might find it difficult to find a job where they pay more. That’s how things work here – the HR decides your salary based on your previous salary. Some people will tell you that “any experience is good experience” but it doesn’t mean that you study MBA and take up housekeeping for experience. I am finding it difficult to find a job after leaving the NGO where I was paid very less.

Lesson 7: Have Faith In Yourself

If you’re reading this, never lose hope. Never look down on yourself. Be confident and proud of how far you have come in life. Never feel down after getting rejected, it’s their loss, not yours. Everyone around you is going through the same process, but we just don’t seem to understand or see it. Just remember that everything works out in the end.

Lesson 8: Don’t Chase Money

If your only interest is in the paycheque, you will never be happy in life. You should always focus on what you can learn. Work on your skills outside of your job. Trust me, focusing on money won’t help you in the long haul. What’s the point if you are not happy with that job?

Lesson 9: Learn Something New

This one’s important. Companies want to see what you know outside of your syllabus. Make sure to learn something new. Always stay updated. If you have to join a new course, you should consider learning it. I felt like I lacked work experience, so I joined a digital marketing course. Just remember – stay involved and keep working hard. I promise you that it pays off.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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