Needing Failure to Succeed

In a nutshell

Success doesn't always come easily and sometimes it takes the failures you experience beforehand to eventually succeed. This is what Newton consultant Nikhil Patel discovered when he went through our application process three times...

Nikhil Patel


Nikhil Patel

Posted March 30, 2022

The saying ‘third time lucky’ took on a whole new meaning to me when I became an offer holder at Newton having applied to their graduate consultancy roles three times. Saying that now, I can’t believe I did. I suffered huge knocks to my confidence on the way, but ultimately needed the journey, the failure, to eventually succeed.

Application One, nervous but optimistic

I first applied to Newton in my second year of uni. Everyone had started obsessing about grad schemes and I’ll admit, Newton was one of many bulk applications I completed that year. Because I was applying to so many, it meant I hadn’t really researched the company and all it took was meeting one of their consultants to pique my interest. He was approachable, down to earth, and made the work sound exciting, so I went straight to the library, looked at their website, and could see it was a completely different kind of company.

Now actively invested in my application, I wanted to succeed with Newton more than most other positions. Like every student, I understood how competitive graduate programmes are, so was very happy to make it to selection day. Having never been to one before, I didn’t know what to expect but set off with my emotions churning in an unsteady mix of apprehension and optimism.

I’d prepared for the day and was feeling confident in that sense, but coming up against a group of older, competent and high achieving individuals affected my confidence in a way I hadn’t anticipated. In fact, the feedback I received from Newton mainly focused on confidence. In response to my group assessment, comments were made about having confidence in my calculations, voicing my disagreements, and reporting back to the lead assessor. Looking back, I know I didn’t perform to the best of my ability because I was overly concerned with what other’s thought of me. I was focusing too much on what I believed to be the competition rather than on my own performance.

Hindsight is a great thing, and I’ll happily say that now I’m a Newton Consultant. At the time though, I wasn’t so ready to admit where I’d gone wrong and how to change it. After being rejected, my initial response was quite defeatist. I went through the stages of blaming myself, then of course Newton (it’s okay they eventually saw the light), and then naturally progressing to the zen attitude of it wasn’t meant to be. I suppose these are the normal “stages of grief” anyone needs when they’ve had a knock to their confidence and without them, I don’t think I’d have got to the point where I decided to try again.

I was focusing too much on what I believed to be the competition rather than on my own performance.

Application Two, this one hurt

Fast forward a year and I was ready to reapply, thinking I’d taken enough time to grow my confidence, mature and get into the right headspace to do so. A certain element of maturity is having the self-awareness to know what you want from a career, and this is something I thought I’d gained. I had an innate feeling I belonged at Newton, making it the only application I did that year.

I realise now that I’d not changed much, other than having a more decisive idea of what I wanted from a career. In myself things weren’t very different, and I still felt slightly underconfident when up against others- something which was reflected again in the feedback I received from Newton. Just like my first try, it centred around demonstrating more self-confidence in the group assessment stage.

The second time was the hardest failure I faced. I’d actively made the decision I wanted to be there and felt I’d matured but failed at selection day, the same hurdle. I hadn’t moved. I’d failed twice but hadn’t learnt how to convert that failure into success. I needed to do something more, and at this stage I was slightly lost as to what that was.

Application Three, pretty pleased with myself (!)

Strangely enough, it took some difficult changes in my personal life to finally help me build confidence and think about how I could take setbacks and learn from them. In terms of actually improving my self-confidence, I think a lot of it came naturally with age and life-experience. My life changed a lot over university, so my confidence developed alongside that.

Last year I had a significant family bereavement which required me to be mentally strong and gave me confidence in my resilience and added depth to my character. Looking after my mum in that time developed my emotional understanding too, which in turn grew my self-confidence. Aside from that, I also gained a lot of self-confidence having done well in my undergrad, despite the mess that was going on that year. That was a big confidence-boost. I realised that if I could get through all this then surely, I could get through a Newton selection day.

You can always learn from your mistakes and prepare for your next challenge.

I couldn’t (and still can’t) believe it when I was made an offer. My perseverance had paid off. The main piece of advice I’d give to anyone facing similar hurdles is to remember when you’re feeling a negative emotion, that feeling is always temporary. Allow yourself to be upset but also remember you will bounce back. You can always learn from your mistakes and prepare for your next challenge. Overall, confidence comes from a few things: the true belief that you belong, the preparation that you put in and the pride you have in yourself when you finally succeed.

If you really want something, keep your eye on it. It will come.