MLT Blog

Learning from Rejection

by: Taofik Sulaiman

I’m really excited to share the news that I will be interning with Microsoft this summer! I’ll be working as a Program Manager Intern in the devices and hardware division—my dream internship. But more importantly, I want to share the lessons I learned during the entire application and recruitment process.

Everyone can learn from experiencing failure. 

The picture below shows me and my close friend, Denzel Pfeifer. It was taken one year ago, right after our final round of Microsoft interviews, and before we received the rejection emails the following week… again.

Taofik Sulaiman

Taofik Sulaiman, left and Denzel Pfeifer, right.

A lot of people assume that you apply once, ace the interview and then automatically get an offer. But there is much more that goes on behind the scenes for candidates. I probably completed over twenty applications for various positions at Microsoft over a three-year period. The photo doesn’t show the weeks of preparation and the late nights we put in leading up to that particular interview. You can read books with tips on interviewing — like  Cracking the Coding— cover to cover, or practice product manager interviews over and over, and still not land the offer.

Before receiving the offer to intern this year, I had been rejected after final round interviews, three years in a row. But, with each rejection, I took away key lessons that helped me to finally land my dream internship.

With the help of amazing recruiters, advocates and friends, I was able to see how I could improve each time.  I focused on what I needed in order to better my tech skills to be an ideal candidate for the role and the company. The key was having background knowledge from experiential learning and passion for the role. After each try, I picked up a new project or endeavor which moved me closer to an offer each and every time I applied.

Before receiving the offer to intern this year, I had been rejected after final round interviews, three years in a row.

I couldn’t agree more with what my friend Denzel told me when he said, “I saw making it past the final round as a challenge after the first go-around. Practicing the interview material and gaining other relevant experience showed my candidacy and growth the next time.”

The thing that never changed was my drive to keep on trying despite repeated rejections. I took all “no’s” as a learning experience and improved myself each time. Every time you strive for something, there is the possibility of being denied. Keep pushing, keep learning, and keep trying.

Microsoft has a learning-focused approach, and I am super excited to start working there.  I encourage you to Share this blog to motivate someone to push past rejection to achieve their goals. Everyone can learn from experiencing failure.

This blog was originally published on LinkedIn and is being redistributed with permission. It has been condensed and edited for clarity.