How Getting Rejected From Disney Led to the Happiest Decision of My Life

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Meet Alyssa

Alyssa is a double alumna from the University of California, Riverside, earning her B.S. Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing in 2016, and her MBA, concentration in Strategy in 2018. 

She is currently the Director, Mission Advancement for Best Buddies International, a nonprofit that supports students and adults with disabilities. In this role, Alyssa oversees development, operations, and strategy for Colorado and Utah, including budget management and projections; annual signature fundraising event execution; social media and PR; volunteer recruitment, training, and stewardship; corporate sponsor and Advisory Board relationship management, and program delivery. 

Alyssa is also an Adjunct Professor at Front Range Community College in Colorado, where she teaches Introduction to Business to an average of 75 students per semester.

Alyssa’s Failure Story

When I was a junior in college, I quickly discovered that I wanted to leverage my business skill set with my passion for helping people. I applied to my dream company, Disney, for their corporate citizenship internship which would have been a great combination of my passions and my skill set. The position dealt with sustainability and connection to the community, which was what I was all about at the time. Still am, but in a different way. I went through the interview process and made it to the final round. It was between me and another student, and they ended up selecting the student that had completed the Disney College program. This felt like a failure for me because I applied to the Disney College program the year before and got rejected. So here I was as a qualified candidate, enough to get to the final round, yet not be selected because I simply didn’t have the Disney background.

Shortly afterwards, I had connected with the interviewer on LinkedIn, who was the director of the department at the time. She said that I was a great candidate and encouraged me to apply again. That’s also when I discovered that they had picked the student that had completed the Disney College program. I followed up and asked her for more advice, so that I could set myself up for success for the next time I applied. A year passed and the connection was MIA. I had thought I connected with her really well, but the culmination of getting rejected from the college program and then the internship and then her was hard to accept. I knew the other candidate had been chosen because they had already been introduced to the Disney World, and here I was being honest and vulnerable connecting to this woman, and it felt like a total rejection when I didn’t hear back from her. My ultimate mission was to bring my passion for helping people into a corporate America career, and this experience was what changed my direction to the nonprofit world.  

This situation had prepared me for the professional world because it was the first time I had ever reached out to someone with that esteem on LinkedIn, especially a hiring manager.

It first taught me that you have to put yourself out there and be okay with being vulnerable and honest – regardless of rejection.

In my career now, I’m a director and in a position to influence younger students and interested parties of Best Buddies. From my experience of lack of individualization and personalization that came from that one conversation with the hiring manager, I try to approach the conversations I have with more compassion.

Additionally, the rejection from the Disney position helped pave the way for getting my MBA at UC Riverside. A degree was being offered to me with a full tuition waiver, and UCR allowed me to work full time while earning it. I probably wouldn’t have applied to Best Buddies if I didn’t pursue my MBA. Education led the way for me there.

Because I work in fundraising, I face rejections all the time. However, facing personal rejection is totally different.Through the years, rejection has taught me that I now only want to interact and go to places that actually like me for the honesty and vulnerability that I show up with. If that’s not something you’re interested in, then I’m not going to fit in there anyway. I always try to treat people with kindness, whether I know them or not. We all understand that life gets busy and it may take days or weeks to respond back, but as a professional, I try to help the next generation leave a better legacy than what I was presented with when I started entering the market.

Where to find Alyssa

Instagram: @stumpasaur

Clubhouse: @alyssastump 

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