Before the phenomenon called “HLS Corporate Recruiting” entered my life last fall, I have to say, I wasn’t really used to rejection. I mean, if I got to HLS, I must have been doing pretty well in life. Back then, I took rejection personally; I recall losing one internship and sitting around for hours wondering whose resume could have been more compelling than mine. And laughably enough, being pissed off about it.
My recent “ding” letter from a San Francisco law firm called McCutchen Doyle has shown me how far I’ve progressed in my analysis of rejection, specifically, law-based rejection. After reading the standard “I really enjoyed meeting you and found our conversation compelling,” I looked at the letterhead and thought, “Nice.”
But I never even interviewed with McCutchen Doyle. I was rejected for a job I had not applied for and told how compelling I was by a man I’d never met.
This is the best rejection letter I have ever received. While reading it several times and absorbing the absurdity of the situation, I realized that I held proof of the level of artificiality and ridiculousness that is every 2L and 3L’s October existence. Following which, I more seriously and sadly realized that if this process, the supposed culmination of our tenures, is so artificial, why in the hell am I participating? Did I go to HLS to have what makes or breaks me come down to decisions made by people who reject applicants they’ve never seen? …
I’m still not sure what the privilege of this education means to me. It’s something I constantly ponder; despite my denigrations of this place, I realize the magnitude of the gift and need to reassess it continuously, lest it be cheapened. But far more than any acceptance I ever received, I now realize that, in setting ego aside, meaning does exist in those ding letters I have had the pleasure of receiving over the last two years. For through these dings, I have at least formulated a measure of what I don’t want my life to be. I am lucky to have been shown that there’s meaning behind every last ridiculous one. And it is only those of us who are lucky enough to understand the meaning of dings, rather than revel in the glory of acceptance, who have the potential to find the promise of happiness behind the HLS degree.