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Not getting that job offer after the internship



Mai Le


The title, though painful, is clear. HR has either called or emailed you with kind words, wishing you the best, because you didn’t receive the job offer you so ardently hoped for after your internship. The moment you heard the phrase “Unfortunately…”, your future suddenly seemed fraught with uncertainty. This article aims to offer clarity on the logical steps to take after a missed job offer.

Step 1: Slow down and take a step back to think

1. You have a lifetime to work

The situation you’re in is undeniably tough, and no one would want to be in your shoes. You worked diligently to secure the internship. Perhaps you even put your all into the 3-month summer internship, hoping it would end with a job offer. The outcome was undoubtedly disappointing. Rejections can dent our self-image and redirect our envisioned path. However, the weight of your disappointment may be exaggerating the magnitude of this setback. It might seem like everyone else has their futures mapped out, while your path remains unclear. The sting of not having a guaranteed job after graduation lingers. But ask yourself, “Why the rush?” Once you begin working, you’ll realize you have a lifetime of work ahead. Most adults work for about 40 years, facing numerous challenges along the way. One such challenge might be an unexpected layoff while supporting a family. Now, contrast that with your current situation. Without this job offer, you still have university to return to and potential financial support from interest-free student loans or parents. Furthermore, there’s no cost to try again. It’s a privilege to determine so early in your career that a particular path might not be for you. Many from previous generations only realized a need for change after several years in a role, without the benefit of internships or early career rejections. In the grand scheme, this challenge is a mere blip on your lifelong journey.

2. Achieve a state of peace for better decision-making

It’s essential to reflect on what happened, learn from it, and avoid repeating mistakes. My previous blog post offers specific steps to find emotional peace and make sound decisions. I recommend following those steps before starting your evaluation.

3. They might reconsider… but it’s time to move on

I’ve had two mentees who initially weren’t offered jobs post-internship. Yet, a few months later, the banks reached out with offers. So, there’s a possibility of a change of heart, especially if you were borderline during your evaluation. However, in both cases, the mentees had found other opportunities and declined the banks’ offers. While there’s a chance of an offer later on, don’t bank on it. Typically, any reconsiderations happen between March and May of the following year, often because more analysts than anticipated leave post-bonus season. In such cases, employers might consider previous interns. However, relying solely on this slim possibility is unwise. It’s better to accept the situation, move forward, and focus on actionable steps, as discussed in the remainder of this article.

4. Assess what went wrong: Was it the bank, the job, or you?

It’s never easy facing unpleasant memories, but you must determine why you weren’t offered a position:

  • Was it bank-specific reasons (e.g., limited positions, team restructuring, or a culture mismatch)?
  • Was it job-specific reasons (e.g., the role was too technical or mismatched to your strengths)?
  • Or was it something about you?

The last point can be tough to accept. Often, rejections stem from perceived shortcomings, whether it’s in your skills, work ethic, or interpersonal dynamics. But remember, this isn’t a personal indictment. Think of job selection as a kind of partnership. Just as not all relationships work out, not every job is a fit. To get an accurate picture, seek feedback from trusted colleagues:

  • Tell them upfront that you’re seeking honest feedback for personal growth.
  • Ask for detailed insights into why you might not have been chosen.

Gaining genuine negative feedback can be challenging, but it’s crucial for improvement. If done correctly, you might leave a lasting positive impression.

Step 2: Take action

5. Explore other options

Your next steps hinge on the insights from the previous section:

  • If the issue was the bank, consider similar roles at other banks.
  • If it was the job, think about different roles within the same bank.
  • If it was personal, the path is less straightforward, and the following details might help.

When assessing someone, I differentiate between their “core” (comprising personality, values, beliefs) and their behavior, which is more mutable. Base your evaluations and decisions on these elements. If you weren’t chosen due to specific behaviors (like slow email responses), those can be modified. If the rejection stemmed from a mismatch between your core values and the job or company, consider looking elsewhere.

6. If you’re returning to university

For those heading back to school:

  • Prioritize your grades. This degree might be your only one, so make it count.
  • Be cautious about taking extended breaks, as employment gaps can be scrutinized by future employers.

Step 3: Maintain momentum

Rejections can be catalysts for growth and introspection. Use them wisely. Whatever your next steps, be informed, remain committed, evaluate outcomes, and adjust as needed.

I’ve compiled over 100 cover letters from myself and my peers at Cover Letter Library, designed to assist you. This exclusive library features successful letters from those who’ve secured positions at top investment banks, major firms, and more. Take a look ūüôā

Illustration by my friend Karl.¬†I’m also on Instagram! Follow me @official.mai.le

Written by Mai Le

My name is Mai. I am originally from Vietnam. After my university years at LSE, I worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. After a wonderful time there, I started several of my own business as well as helping others on theirs. I've always been building communities and businesses for as long as I can remember, and absolutely thrilled to see others enjoy what I've built.


1 Comment

  1. Grace

    Thank you so much for writing this article! I was not given an offer after my intership, and to be honest I was expecting it. in fact, the day I got the offer call for the intership, I was not happy or excited. Looking back, I have always questioned if I made the right choice to change careers right after the rejection but I think your article tips have helped erase these doubts I’ve planted in my mind. It is still hard for me to acknowledge that failure of securing a job offer before graduation, but you’re right it is a long journey and there is so much time ahead I have control over.


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