Career Stories: How Vesna Tertei Rudinski Used Rejection as Motivation

A hand gestures "no" to an envelope being passed.

Whether your shot was blocked in a game of basketball, 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.

Take Vesna Tertei Rudinski for example. As the Chief Operations Officer (COO), co-owner, and co-founder of GG Hive, a custom product and software development company based in San Francisco, California, 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. 

Read more about Tertei Rudinski’s journey below. For more career rejection tips, advice, and stories, check out this article.


Just three years ago, Vesna Tertei Rudinski and her family relocated to the United States from their home country, Serbia. With her software development background and a hunger for opportunity in tow, Tertei Rudinski wanted to make the adjustment painless for herself, her family, and her career.

Vesna Tertei Rudinski

“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 or anything. 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 the pandemic hit, what was already a 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 CV,” 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.”  

It was in her boot camp that Tertei Rudinski was able to finetune her English, learn modern industry trends, and, most importantly, make 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, and one of them recognized some talent in me and wanted to start the company together,” she explains.

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 a testament to the fact that rejection can be positive and, sometimes, life-changing.

According to Tertei Rudinski, GG Hive is expanding quickly. The company is finding new clients, hiring for software development positions, and moving toward the e-commerce solutions and custom software development sectors. For new hires, Tertei Rudinski is keeping an open mind and remembering her own journey.

“I am looking to hire for a Scrum Master [position], 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. 

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

As her leadership role gets off the ground, one thing is certain for Tertei Rudinski: 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.” 

For more tips and advice on facing rejection, read here. In the meantime, Tertei Rudinski suggests taking a similar approach to her own: let “no” create an opportunity to lean in and be brave.


Leadership: Industry Professional Shares Tips and Tidbits

A strong advocate for gender equality in the tech industry, Kanksha Masrani co-leads the Women in STEM Recruiting Team at Procter & Gamble. She says that strong leadership is dependent on three things: your principles, leading yourself first, and asking for what you need.

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