Failure Resume | Kat Huang


Not a comprehensive list.

What's a failure resume?

A failure resume is, as its name suggests, a list of rejections and setbacks. This concept originated in academia, but can be applied to improve one's career, resilience, and approach to challenges in any walk of life.

Why do you share your failure resume?

The main reason I have this is because I've seen the online presences of a lot of accomplished people my age, and when I'm not secure in myself, it's easy to think that others are perfect and never experience setbacks. Working on not comparing yourself to others is an internal skill that's developed with practice over time, but I think it's helpful to also see things like this along the way.

The other reason is to record these for future reference and learn from my challenges.

Does this make you feel bad about yourself?

For the most part, I'm not particularly hung up on any of these failures, so it's not difficult for me to share them. (Edit, Oct 2020: I've recently noticed that I no longer am interested in applying for many things I applied to previously.)

Some of these don't sound like failures?

What constitutes a "failure" here is based solely on my own judgement. People have said that a lot of these failures seem more like flexes, but I think it just reflects how much I put myself out there. If I try to achieve more impressive things, then my rejections are more "impressive" too, in a way.

Note: I'm also hoping to clean up this list in general and push for quality rather than quantity. What good is a laundry list of rejections if I'm not reflecting on and learning from them? (I mean, I guess there's still some good...)


  • HackMIT organizing team
  • Interact Fellowship
  • Radcliffe Engaged Summer Grant
  • Turned down: On Deck Writers' Fellowship, MIT AIM Labs
  • Internships: Washington Post newsroom engineering (interviewed), NPR News Apps Designer


  • Neo Startup Camp
  • MIT fuse
  • A few UROPs (undergraduate research positions)
  • MIT Global Startup Workshop organizer (interviewed)
  • Impact Labs Fellowship
  • Freshman pre-orientation program counselor (interviewed)
  • Dorm Room Fund partner (interviewed)
  • Announced a project at a national conference, then had to cancel it a few months later
  • Various dance groups, acapella groups, scholarships, nonprofit grants
  • MIT Admissions Blogger
  • AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador
  • Square Code Camp (interviewed)
  • Harvard College


  • Research Science Institute
  • Broad Summer Scholars Program
  • HUBweek panel proposal rejected (then got invited to speak at HUBweek 2019, introduced by the founder)
  • Dropped out as a speaker from TEDxYouth@BeaconStreet
  • Founded TEDxLowellHigh but it fell apart after a few months
  • Got a C+ in Multivariable Calculus