Using rejection as motivation: One woman’s pivot into entrepreneurship

Whether your shot was blocked in a basketball game, or you encountered a social scene where you did not belong, you have likely faced rejection at some point in your life. So why should the job search be any different?

No matter your career stage, there is a high chance that you have been passed over for a position or told “no” by a potential employer. But there is good news: rejection can teach resilience and even expand your career’s possibilities.

A headshot of Tertei R.
Vesna T.R.

Take Vesna Tertei Rudinski for example. As the chief operations officer (COO) of GG Live, a custom product and software development company, Tertei Rudinski understands that embracing the “nos” can open unexpected doors. 

“I was rejected while I was still in a boot camp, so when my [current] business partner asked me if I was open to a business relationship, that rejection helped me to be braver. If that didn’t happen, I’m not sure that I would have been brave enough to go into [entrepreneurship],” she recalls. 

Discover more about Tertei Rudinski’s story below and get inspired to embrace rejection in your own career.

New beginnings

Just 3 years ago, Tertei Rudinski relocated to the United States with her family from Serbia, their home country. With her software development background and a hunger for opportunity, Tertei Rudinski wanted to make the adjustment seamless for her family, and her career.

“It’s very hard to be employable here, especially if you don’t have any work experience here, or if you didn’t finish any American college. When you come here, you don’t have a U.S. work history. Even if you’re in your forties, it’s like you’ve just been born. So, practically, I had to reinvent myself and see what I’m going to do,” she explains.

When COVID-19 hit, the already difficult situation grew harder. Now residing near Silicon Valley, Tertei Rudinski knew that she could put her software development background and self-taught project management skills to good use. Inspired to make a career change, she applied to the Berkeley Online Technology Project Management Boot Camp.

“I wanted to have an American certification. I thought that it would be good on my resume,” recalls Tertei Rudinski. “I also wanted knowledge. I wanted to be able to recognize all the new trends, and to incorporate everything that is now available for project managers.”  

In her boot camp, Tertei Rudinski fine tuned her English, learned modern industry trends, and, most importantly, made a few critical connections. 

“The additional good thing [about the boot camp] is that you are expanding your professional network. I met lots of fabulous people there,” she explains.

It turns out that one critical connection is all she needed: the two of them now own a company together.

A pivot to entrepreneurship

Tertei Rudinski’s main focus is now on her company, GG Hive. While the company grows, she continues to freelance on the side for businesses in Europe. 

“I can’t believe it,” she says, reflecting on the arc of her global journey. From Serbia to the United States, software development to tech leadership, and “no” to “yes,” Tertei Rudinski is living proof that rejection can be positive and life-changing. 

Computer screen showing the website of software company, GG Hive.
GG Hive’s website

GG Hive is expanding quickly. With new clients, the company moves forward to e-commerce solutions and custom software development sectors, creating new software development jobs. For new hires, Tertei Rudinski keeps an open mind and remembers her own journey.

“I am looking to hire a scrum master, and I met a candidate who has great experience in support for a car company. I value the energy that I recognize within the person, the organizational skills, and all of their good soft skills. You don’t have to be an expert in software development. You can learn the process, if you’re open to learning,” Tertei Rudinski explains.

As her leadership role gets off the ground, one thing is certain: offering mentorship and guidance based on her ongoing journey is one way she believes she can support others along theirs. And she has plenty of advice for those facing rejection. 

“You really have to believe in yourself, and you have to search your work history for the things that are transferable. When changing careers, if you know someone that is working the kind of job that you want it’s good for you to reach out. You never know, maybe they are looking for an assistant or a junior project manager.” 

In the meantime, Tertei Rudinski suggests taking a similar approach to her own: let “no” create an opportunity to lean in and be brave.

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