By Amanda Herrera, Beta Class
It seems that we all quantify our lives based on experience, relationship experience, life experience, work experience. This word seems to encompass everything we feel relevant enough to mention about ourselves. Though this seems justifiable, what happens when you need experience to get it. Most things don’t have this requirement. You don’t need past life experiences to gain more. It might help, but life won’t stop happening to you for your lack of experience.
However, this is very likely to happen when talking about work experience. What do you do when you don’t have enough experience to gain anymore?
This is where I found myself a few months ago. Many things influenced my decision to leave home, but the deciding factor was my restlessness. I felt like I was on a treadmill; I was running but not going anywhere. I was ready for a change and wanted to gain as much “experience” as I could in my early 20s. I came to UCF ready to better myself personally and professionally. My first couple weeks were wonderful. I had made some friends and began rushing Zeta Phi Eta.
But as time went on I started feeling like I wasn’t on the same level as the young professionals around me. My friends had held internships, were contributing writers to respectable publications, or were free-lancing in their fields. I felt like I was behind and I would never catch up. How far could I go in Public Relations with my three years of retail and receptionist experience?
What made this feeling worse was that it wouldn’t go away. As time passed, the people around me seemed more and more excited for internships they new they would qualify for. I on the other-hand was struggling to convince myself I deserved an internship as much as my peers.
But I decided I wasn’t going to let my lack of experience determine my drive or ambition. I was going to get an internship one way or another.
I attended UCF’s Intern Pursuit for young communication majors ready with my resume’s in hand. Regardless of how juvenile they were. I worked every table that interested me. Even the ones that didn’t. I could not afford to be picky. I also did the most to stick out. I made sure to make a personal connection with every possible employer.
That night I went home ready to get to work. I drafted an email to every person who gave me a business card. I wanted to make sure the conversations were still fresh in my mind so I could include as many details as possible to make them remember me. I was hopeful. I felt like I was doing enough.
As the replies to my emails came in, I was being asked for things I didn’t have. Like writing samples, or past campaigns I had worked on. I was back to not having enough experience. Just when I was starting to feel like I wasn’t enough to land an internship, I got an email from Crealdé School of Art.
They were the first table I had spoken to and the marketing coordinator had replied to my email because she had remembered our conversation and had enjoyed our exchange.
After an interview, she went ahead and offered me a position.
I did it. I landed my first internship.
To anyone reading this, you are more than your work experience. It is everything a person is that makes them qualified for a position. Despite a lack of ability to write a press release or manage a mass email system, I was offered an internship off the skills I acquired from my personal life. What I considered useless, like my ability to make a connection with someone, was what set me aside from the other resumes she received that day. It was what made me different to her.
Work experience helps, and we should all gain some wherever we can get it. But don’t feel discouraged because your resume isn’t as long as someone else’s. You can learn the technical stuff on the job. Ambition and drive are self-taught. If you have that, nothing can stop you.
Everything you are is what makes you valuable, not just your work experience.