5 Inevitable Career Setbacks That Will Help You Succeed Later In Life

If you’re early in your career, you likely haven’t faced many setbacks yet, but there are a lot of lessons in failure and hardship.

5 Inevitable Career Setbacks That Will Help You Succeed Later In Life
[Photo: Nonnakrit for Shutterstock]

Among the good times, your college years are also filled with moments of hair-pulling and the occasional screaming in frustration at the top of your lungs. Back then, you probably asked yourself, “Why is this happening to me?!” but with the passing of time, your mind-set shifts. The stress, sadness, or anger that you once felt was replaced with understanding—and even a lesson learned. Here, three millennials share their in-the-moment nightmares that eventually helped them overcome:


1. Difficult Coworkers

I was assigned to a group for a project and the other students were just plain awful. It was impossible to get everyone to show up to the meetings, and several deadlines were missed. I had to work extra hard to crank out the project by being on top of everyone, but it prepared me for working with coworkers who I might not necessarily click with. We ended up getting a good grade on the project, by the way!

—Shannon, 22, Philadelphia, PA

[Related: How To Deal With Difficult Coworkers]

2. Untimely Illnesses

I got food poisoning the day before a final and couldn’t study for it because I was so sick. It taught me that sometimes things happen that you can’t prepare for ahead of time. You just have to keep plugging away and deal with problems as they come.

—Lindsey, 22, Manalapan, NJ

3. Failure

Right when I started college, I knew I wanted to work in magazines. I was crazy-passionate about editing, so I thought my first editing-specific class would be a breeze. I soon realized I wasn’t as good as a thought—I got a D on my first assignment and a few Cs thereafter. My professor scheduled a time to meet with me to talk about my grades, and I think we talked for nearly an hour about how I could improve. I took on extra work, not even for extra credit, but so I could practice and get better. Then I started to get Bs and then As, and ended the class with a B+. Now I work as an editor in New York City, living my dream. If I gave up after the first challenge that came my way, I never would have gotten to where I am today.

—Erica, 24, New York, NY

4. A Super-Demanding Boss

I had a nursing instructor in college who was very strict during my clinical rotations in the hospital. It seemed like she cared so much about little things, like being a few minutes late, and would have a harsh penalty if anything like that happened. I only realized after college, when I got my first nursing job, that she was only trying to be a good educator. She was hard on us for the right reasons; she wanted us to understand that we were dealing with patients’ lives and that our job was serious.

—Christina McCourt, 24, Hoboken, NJ

[Related: How To Deal With A Terrifying Boss]

5. Rejection

I got injured right before my first college track season. I always imagined I would be on the cross country and track team because it’s what I had done in high school. I expected that to be my thing, and for that to be where I made my friend group. As soon as I got injured, I knew I wouldn’t be able to just get right back into the swing of things as if nothing happened. I made the decision to join a sorority instead. It ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made in college. Now, I remind myself to always be open to new things, even if it means straying from my original plan. If one door closes in your face, you can’t be afraid to look for another way out.

—Tara, 22, Long Branch, NJ

This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.