A failure story from alum Spencer Dewald

Hi Dean Jarley,

Hope this email finds you well. I have seen some of your recent posts highlighting failures as a growth tool and thought you may find value in sharing my story with graduating job-hunters.

As this year’s seniors graduate, they will come to know a couple of their friends that are drowning in job offers. I was not one of those people. By all means I had the resources to do it; I was a member of UCF’s Professional Selling Program (PSP) which is highly recruited by some very successful companies. Unfortunately, I lacked the proper interviewing skills that were needed to close the deal. So I interviewed and failed, failed, and failed again. Some of the companies that I had interviews for (but no job offers) included:

Aerotek, blown out in first interview
Gartner, final round (5 of my peers got this job, pretty sure I was the only one that interviewed that didn’t get it).
Pepsi, final round
Cintas, 2nd round
Tom James 3rd round
Google SMB adword sales, final round.

It’s hard to put into words how bad it hurt to not get that first Google offer. I had my mind set on Google ever since I joined PSP (they are one of our top sponsors) and always thought I would be a good culture fit for them. Problem was I had a track record of getting far in the interview process but never actually received an offer. I had one more shot to interview at Google for another position (which happened to be my dream job) but had little to lean on in terms of results. The day I graduated from UCF I had zero job offers while many of my friends were beginning their new chapters in less than a month. It was sobering to say the least.

It was right around graduation that everything started clicking for me. I began to understand the true meaning behind interviewer questions and how to side-step questions I wasn’t ready to answer (i.e. is our company your top choice?). I only learned these skills and tactics through 20+ failed interviews I had had throughout senior year.

To make a long story short, I eventually got my Google job offer (and a couple others) after graduation. Today I sell Google cloud solutions to the largest companies and government entities in the United States, an unparalleled opportunity for a new grad out of a state school in Florida. My closing advice would be to find a mentor, have a plan of what you want, and interview until you are blue in the face (preferably with your dream position as one of your last interviews). While I didn’t know it at the time, every failure I had was actually a step closer to making my greatest professional dream a reality.

Best of luck to all the job hunters, may YOU make the odds forever in your favor :).

One thought on “A failure story from alum Spencer Dewald

  1. Nandie Doobay
    Capstone Lab Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 0024

    Success is measured in many different aspects, contingent of the individual and their perception. For me success is measured by finding that happy point in your life and working to sustain it. May 2013, I was given an amazing internship opportunity at a company called Starwood Vacation Ownership. This company is in the hospitality industry, specifically in the hotel and timeshare portion of the industry. Coming into this internship, I was skeptical of how much I would get out of this opportunity; I did not know the first thing about corporate finance or the business world.
    As soon as I entered Starwood, I was hit with an immense amount of work. I was thrown right into the workforce and assigned an array of tasks. The first two months of the internship was strenuous; I was working 10-12 hour workdays and still not doing the tasks assigned to me correct. Many times my boss or various co-workers, some of them located across the country, would be asking me to redo tasks for them, would contact me. I am usually one to pick up information and tasks very easy, so the fact that I still did not comprehend what was being assigned to me was quite frustrating. There were days that I questioned whether I entered into the right field; I was second-guessing every decision I ever made in my college career!
    As the fourth month into the internship approached, I began to realize that if I wanted to succeed I was the only one who could make that happen. I needed to be the one to go the extra mile, take more training courses, ask questions, and find alternatives to help handle my extensive array of tasks. So I began taking excel courses at my local library, I brought home notes made throughout the day and consolidated everything into one document for me to review and I began asking questions and setting up meetings with my boss and co-workers.
    As my eighth month of the internship approached, my boss commended me in adapting to the culture and environment of Starwood and for helping the team run more efficiently. As I reflect on my struggles with this internship, I realize how much I have gained from this internship. I will soon be graduating and leaving the internship program at Starwood; but this experience has been a blessing. It has taught me how to adapt to ever changing situations and I have proved to myself that if I put my mind to something, I am more than capable to succeeding. At this moment, I have found my happy point in life and that is what I call success!

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