Thoughts on 100 Rejections from Career Services

An excerpt from last month's Career Services newsletter to current college students, from Assistant Dean of Student Life and Career Services, Greg Martino:

“A few years back, my colleague at the time, Morgan Hobbs, embarked on the 100 rejection project. The idea behind this is that you submit your work over and over again: put in a proposal for a residency . . . apply for a grant . . .  submit to an open call. The goal is to reach 100 rejections, and the idea is that focusing on simply going through the motions, not worrying about the outcome, and welcoming the rejection will somehow lead to decreased anxiety, more opportunity, and, finally, success. The idea emerged recently in a career panel hosted by PAFA MFA2 Marley Parsons, and I started thinking about it a bit more. I’m still not sure I feel comfortable with this idea, and I suspect it will be too uncomfortable an idea for most to embrace, but I thought I’d offer a few links to some readings on the subject.

The idea has been around for a while, and I’ve looked at a few iterations of it. Kim Liao published her version on Literary Hub, an online meeting place for book-oriented folks, and it became a viral sensation in the writing community, as it focused not only on the difficulty of sending creative work out into a seemingly indifferent world, but also centered the practical side of creative career building, linking the actual generative creative process with business-y kinds of things like fellowships, residencies, and blind submissions.

I suggest reading through the two short pieces by Liao, and then, take a look or re-look at the panel discussions, where several artists talk about how experimentation, overcoming hesitancy, and taking leaps have played out in their practice. I’m still skeptical about subjecting oneself to a regimen of the cold showers of constant rejection, but I do like the idea of throwing caution to the wind every once in a while.

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.