Any Experience is Good Experience

A quote from one of those most admired #WIT (women in tech) reads:

“If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.”

Sheryl Sandberg knows what she’s talking about, and I would be happy to take her advice seeing as she oversees the operations at Facebook, only the biggest social network in the world, like ever.

When I took my first ever real internship with an art museum as an Integrated Information Technology major, I didn’t see how this experience could be relevant to any career aspirations I had. Looking back, I applied on a whim because I was desperate to venture off of campus on my no-class days, and I've always had a passion for visual arts. How was calling members about their annual donations or trying to sling memberships to party guests or running errands around downtown Columbia going to help me be a CTO one day? Surprisingly enough, my experience in the development department of a non-profit organization was so much more than those things. I learned how to interface with people, build relationships, and understand the value of incentives.  I learned what it is that influences people in making decisions. These things transcend any career field, but as I’m nearing the infancy of my post-graduate career, it has all started to make sense for me. Part of my job as a technology professional will be interfacing with clients and helping them make decisions (decisions that will ultimately help make my employer some moola). My experience working in an art museum IS relevant, and during interviews I almost always refer back to it when discussing customer service scenarios.

I know you’ve probably heard your parents tell you that any experience is good experience (followed by "Get off the couch and take your butt to the nearest ice cream shop!"). As much as I hate to admit it, they are spot-on. As a first or second-year journalism student you can’t expect to have the internship of your dreams with Cosmo or Marie Clare (that’s not to say I haven’t seen it happen before). You would be surprised at the lessons you will take from a very general internship with a small firm or shop in your hometown-- or with a business that has nothing to do with your course of study. Make the most of your time at your internship or job, and if you don’t like it, at least you know what to look for in the next one. There’s a lesson to be learned and a story to be told from any experience you put on your resume. It’s good to be versatile, it’s good to know people, and it’s good to be unique. If you’re bummed that you won’t be living it up this summer in NYC a la Carrie Bradshaw just remember that your time will come,  so long as you make your experience count. Take that opportunity and own it.