4 things I did after Google rejected me for an internship. |...

4 things I did after Google rejected me for an internship. | by Jacob Rogelberg



That’s how many students apply for Google internships each year — and I was going to be one of them.

I spent hours on my application, tailored my resume for the position (user-research intern), and even designed a website to submit along with it.

A few weeks later, I was notified by a recruiter that I made it past the first stage. Ecstatic, I thanked her and she asked me to provide her with more information so she could float around my application to see if there was a “project match.”

About a month later, I received an email from the recruiter thanking me for taking the time to apply, but noting that unfortunately there wouldn’t be a place for me at Google this summer.


Some of the most successful people admit their failures all the time. James Altucher, hedge-fund manager, entrepreneur and best-selling author doesn’t fear failure — he even writes about how he failed 16 out of 17 times on various projects and companies.

Noah Kagan, CEO of hugely successful Appsumo and Sumome product admits why he got fired from Facebook and lost $100,000,000. Why is failure so rampant — even sexy?

Because failure is critical to success.

“Success comes from rapidly fixing your mistakes rather than getting things right the first time” — Tim Harford, Adapt

It’s no longer about the failure, but how you respond to it— and that’s why I love lean methodology so much.

Lean methodology is about taking a scientific approach to innovation and learning why something failed so you can build something that solves:

  • An actual problem people have
  • A problem that people really need solved

This is best illustrated by a story I read in Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden. It was the beginning of the semester in a certain ceramics class, the teacher divided all the students into two groups. The teacher told the first group that they would be graded only on the quality of pottery they produced and the second was told that would be graded solely on the quantity. For the first group, it didn’t matter how many pottery pieces they created. The second however, would only receive an A if they produced at least 50 lbs, B for 40 lbs, C for 30 lbs, etc.

Who do you think ended up creating better pottery?

The group that focused on quantity ended up with the higher quality pottery. They moved fast, learned from their mistakes, and quite frankly got much more practice. The second group, while they only had to create one piece, sat around thinking about how they would make the best piece and in the end, produced pottery of lower quality than the “quantity group.”

My failure to get an internship at Google was one of my first “pieces of pottery.”

We are conditioned to hate and fear failure!

As soon as you overcome the fear of rejection and join the “quantity” group you’ll realize that failure is not an end — it’s only a beginning.

I took my failure and threw myself into launching my UX career:

  • I received an interaction design internship at one of the top agencies in NYC.
  • I built the largest, global UX Community on Slack in just seven weeks which has over 2000 UX designers and researchers. I’ve also had the honor to host Q&A sessions with some of the top designers and researchers in the world including Jared Spool, Cap Watkins, Steve Portigal, Tomer Sharon and Lou Rosenfeld.
  • I tested and validated a business idea with a couple friends, sold the service to paying customers, and received $100,000 in seed money.
  • Oh, and I’m taking 5 college classes.

So take that failure and make it a stepping stone. Take the time you could have spent being bummed and do something awesome! You’ll probably find out you were suppose to “fail” all along.

This article was first published on Medium.




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