Bella (far right) and a Few Friends at the Michgan vs. OSU Game Last Semester!

Hi everyone! My name is Bella, and I am a first year student in MRADS. When I was first applying to research projects in the beginning of the year, I found myself facing a lot of rejection, and I didn’t always know how to handle it. In the end, I applied to thirty projects (yes, you unfortunately read that right), and while I am definitely a bit of an extreme example, I also believe I learned a lot regarding how to face rejection. I want to share a few strategies with you as they helped me immensely when I was struggling to join a lab, and I am hoping they can help you too!Me and a few friends at the UM vs. OSU game last semester!

Tip #1: Reach Out to Your MRADS Support System. 

Our community is unique in that first-year students have access to many different levels of support within MRADS. In regards to research specifically, our program directors, Dr. Simon and Dr. J’, are extremely helpful in understanding how the UROP database functions and which ways your application can be improved if needed. In addition, I often found myself leaning on the support from my Peer Advisor (shoutout to Cece!) who always made sure to share encouragement and positivity when I needed it most. 

So basically, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help! If you find yourself struggling to get an interview or hear back from the labs you are applying to, know that you have a network of support within MRADS that is ready to help you find your project. 

Tip #2: Reach Out to Your Personal Support System. 

While professional support is extremely important, it is equally important to find support in your friends. MRADS is a deeply kind and welcoming community, so on days when I had received rejection email after rejection email, there was truly nothing that helped more than giggling the stress away with my roommate, Linh, or getting to know other MRADS students through program-wide events. 

Tip #3: Keep Applying. 

I know it’s a bit cliche, but perseverance truly is the key to success. Keep in mind that the University of Michigan is a very large school, so there are a lot of students who are applying for the same projects that you are applying for. In the end, it will only take one acceptance for you to find your place in research, so as long as you continue to apply and reach out to your network of support, you will find a project!

Tip #4: Tell Yourself it Will be OK. 

I realize that there are a lot of ways to go about facing rejection, so it may take a little bit of trial and error before you find a way that works best for you. Personally, I like to remind myself of the common phrase “rejection is redirection,” meaning I will end up exactly where I am meant to, but if you prefer another way to reassure yourself, then use it! At the end of the day, the application process to different research projects can be difficult and competitive, but little self pep-talks here and there will go a loooong way. 

These are a few strategies that helped me most when I was applying for research projects, and I hope you realize that these tips don’t exclusively apply to research, either. Having a strong support network and a persevering mindset is important for adjusting to college life. I hope that my tips will serve you well as you acclimate to your new environment, academics, research endeavors, and beyond.