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Random musings of @mchang.

26 Rejection Letters

As I was finishing up my PhD at the University of Washington Electrical Engineering department in 2003-2004, I applied for a bunch of faculty positions around the United States and Canada. Something like 30+ tenure-track positions. Of those, 26 bothered to write me back with a rejection letter (several didn’t).

Cleaning out my filing cabinet tonight, I came across this folder full of job application materials. In reading through all 26 rejection letters again, the emotions I felt over eight years ago got replayed as if the pause button were simply released.

Most of us have been there. Rejection ain’t a pretty thing. But one thing I didn’t prepare for when blasting out my application packets far and wide was the near constant stream of stabbing rejections I would receive from February through June of 2004. That was a painful spring.

I was lucky, though. Even though most were “no”, I received several offers, and got the job I wanted most. And yes, I’m still here, at Olin College.

Instead of recycling these painful memories, I scanned all the letters and have posted them for everyone to see. You might be in a similar place right now. You might have a friend going through deep, soul-sucking rejection. You might be crafting your own rejection letters.

At least you can read through them and admire the variety of ways institutions and individuals “let down” someone they aren’t interested in. My advice? Be gentle. It’s likely not the first, and definitely not the last rejection they’ll receive. Might as well be nice.

26 Rejections (PDF), aka “Mark’s Winter of Discontent,” or “a tale of faculty woe.”

Just one of many:


  • 26 June 2012
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