Towards the end of my senior year of college, I was rejected from the NBC Page Program. It was my first official job rejection, and I’ll never forget how much it stung.
But instead of being the end to a very short story, that letter became the beginning to the most important lesson of my career.
I wanted nothing more than to join the NBC Page Program -- a prestigious training program in the television industry -- upon graduation. I knew it was an immensely competitive program with a 2% acceptance rate. But I submitted my application confident that desire alone would get me in. Two months later, after a promising first-round screening questionnaire, I received a form rejection letter. My dreams were dashed before they'd even gotten started.
A self-doubter by nature with no professional experience to speak of, I was tempted to walk away and quietly move on to another, more realistic dream. Perhaps a nice desk job, like my parents had hoped. But happily, I was too stubborn to do so.
Instead I leaned in, refusing to take no for an answer. I asked the Page Program when I could reapply and was informed, “in exactly one year.” Determined to get in before that, I networked aggressively, utilized my college alumnae office to the max, set up informational interviews, found email contacts, and took on more internships.
Four months into the “one year,” I reapplied, but this time asked my newfound NBC contacts to personally recommend me. It worked.
The first round was a phone interview, which led to an in-person meeting with the Page Program coordinator. To prepare, I went to the library and took out every available book on NBC, reading them cover-to-cover. Before the interview, I could name the entire 1960s television lineup and knew the network’s storied history.
The interview went off without a hitch. Afterwards, I waited to hear back.
And waited. And waited. No letters came, rejection or otherwise, though I continued to follow up every few weeks.
Finally, months after the interview, I received an email from NBC asking me to re-send my resume. There had been a lot of turnover in the leadership and my resume had been misplaced. The reason I was still in the game was because I had followed up. Another month passed before I received a note informing me that I'd been moved along to the final round of the process: the panel interview.
When I took a seat at the long table in the 30 Rock conference room for the final panel, I could barely believe that my months of effort had gotten me this far. A fellow candidate turned to me and mentioned he had just applied a few days ago and couldn’t believe how quickly the process went. I smiled.
This time, the acceptance call came just 30 minutes after the interview. My perseverance was finally rewarded.
On my first day as an NBC Page, as I put on that gray suit and peacock pin, I knew that I would never again take "no" for a final answer.
Shari Raymond is the Founder and Managing Editor of themediachronicles.com.