When It Comes to Dream Internships, Persistence Is Key

by Nick Reitan

Allow me to indulge you with a quote that I’ve always seemed to enjoy.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” This little piece is from Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho (1983) and seems to sum up most of life’s perpetual struggles.


I am no stranger to failure myself. I frequently find ways to embarrass myself: forgetting my keys, taking the wrong turn, forgetting an assignment… you get the picture. My life is a constant cycle of minor failures.

If there is one type of failure that sticks out to me, however, it would be professional failure. Nothing makes me more nervous than the idea of upsetting a boss, showing up late to a meeting, or missing a deadline. It’s the subtle grip of performance anxiety that keeps me on my toes at all times. When I do eventually fail at something, it’s a concussive blow to my self-esteem that makes me feel embarrassed for messing up in the first place.

We learn from our struggles. Like riding a bike, a scraped knee teaches you to focus on your balance. At work, a critical review makes you focus harder on meeting that Friday deadline.

But one thing I was never prepared for was rejection. Yes, that’s right, punch-in-the-stomach rejection. The kind that makes you give up on those lofty hopes and dreams for half a second.

That’s a story of me and my internship.

I’ll let you in on a secret. This isn’t my first time applying to work at Sundog. Oh no, it’s actually my 3rd! As they say, third time’s a charm… right?

Growing up in Fargo, I was very familiar with Sundog’s celebrated company culture. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you probably know about that too. (If not, check out our culture blogs here!) I reeeaaaally wanted to intern there. So, I applied.

The first time, I was rejected.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t angry! I’ll admit I was a little sad… but it made me work harder! I took more classes, joined more clubs and spent time brushing up on my design skills. (Sorry, I have a thing for design puns) I did this to make sure I felt ready for the next opportunity. I applied again… and you guessed it:

Rejected again.

At this point, I felt like I was missing something. Did I not have the right major? Was there some secret word I forgot to say on my résumé? No, there couldn’t have been. So, I worked harder. I took more classes, I tried other internships, I even did some freelance work! This time, I felt more prepared than ever. So, I tried once more. (Now, we all know how the 3rd attempt ended up, so I’ll spare you the reading.)

Looking back, I knew I had some pretty big hits to my ego after than many failed attempts. I felt like there was some secret that I was missing out on. I’ve come to terms with the fact that there are times when you’re just not ready! You simply don’t have the experience that you need at the point in time. When you discover this, don’t abandon the idea just because you failed once. Work a little harder, find ways to get that experience and try again!

There are many ways to get experience that makes you stand out in the hiring process. Even better, many of these opportunities are free for everyone. Many things like Hubspot Academy or Google AdWords allow you to get certified in critical skills. If you’re looking to build portfolios, look for freelance work in your community. Many non-profit organizations jump at the opportunity to receive a bit of help.

Keep working on building yourself up! All good things happen with time.

Have a great day my intern friends and remember:

Intern Nick