Because the world of on-demand professional knowledge is young and often behind the scenes in today’s business world, one doesn’t go through life preparing to be a part of it. As such, the path to AlphaSights is often unique and paved with lessons learned along the way. There's not just one road that leads to AlphaSights, and the company doesn’t hire based on a specific set of experiences. My story is no exception. I ended up at AlphaSights six months after my application was turned down.

I, much like many ambitious college students, grew up with a preconceived notion of what it meant to be a successful professional. I’d always intended on going to law school, not because I really had a passion for law, but rather because I thought it was the fast track to success. After some serious soul searching during the Fall of my senior year of college, I realized that my motives were shallow, and decided that law school was not right for me. Unfortunately, this meant hitting the job search without even the slightest clue of what role I wanted to jumpstart my career.

I applied to AlphaSights in November of 2013 with little sense of why I was applying, the skills I was hoping to develop, and how AlphaSights fit into my long-term career trajectory. I simply knew I needed a job, saw an opening, and thought my own merits would translate into a job. The impetus, or lack thereof, behind my application was evident, and I wasn’t offered a position as a result.

While the sting of rejection hurt, the process was a huge learning experience. I wasn't ready to begin the job search. I took the next few months to really develop an understanding of what I wanted out of my first job and what type of company was a good fit for me. As fate had it, I realized that AlphaSights actually satisfied all of my needs and goals. The difference this time, however, was that I was able to articulate why. I knew that I was a stronger candidate and had nothing to lose by applying again. My persistence was rewarded, and two weeks later, I was offered a full time position.

The lesson here is that an initial no doesn’t need to be a permanent no. There are several ways to improve your application throughout the job search process and transform you into a more desirable candidate. You can improve your resume or work on how you come across in an interview, experience or accomplish something meaningful, or in my case, develop a clear understanding of your early stage professional goals.

There is a huge misconception that you need to know what you want to do for the rest of your life right after college. In reality, no employer expects you to have your life mapped out at age 22. Employers are merely looking for you to understand what you’re trying to get out of your first couple years as a professional, what skills you’re hoping to develop, and what type of professional you aspire to be. In my case, the ability to articulate this and how AlphaSights would help me get there made me a much more desirable candidate the second time around.

The moral of my story isn’t to apply everywhere multiple times until something sticks. Rather, if you improve your application or desirability in a meaningful way, it doesn’t hurt to apply again.