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Change the Way You Look at Your Work Experience

work experience
Anna Gray
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Published on March 24, 2015

Freshman year, if you asked me whether stability or mobility was more important, I would have chosen the former without hesitation. The plan was to go to school and work part time, and that would be that. I thought if I could just show my future employer that I wasn’t some clueless, irresponsible teenager drifting from this occupation to that, coupled with awesome grades, there was no way I wouldn’t get a job. I even turned down a minor managerial position, because I felt it might interfere with my studies.

Now I’m about to graduate and every posting is asking for a go getter, and I’m kicking myself—what have I gone and got? I can reason that every occupation has its challenges and responsibilities, even that of a server versus a manager, but on paper, I traded scheduling, hiring and paperwork for taking orders. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but faced with the anxiety of “growing up,” I’m considering the choice through another lens. I’ve been a waitress for a while, and there’s not much room for growth or much of an opportunity to put my particular education to use. Even more depressing is the fact that occasions for true acrobatic feats of intelligence are rare because the job is mostly routine.

I started to face the resume process dreading that what I had taken for stability might be viewed by potential employers as stagnation—that is, until I spoke with an alum at a liberal arts conference.

She asked me to list the things my job entailed, specifically what challenges I had faced and how I had overcome them. She asked me to consider why my managers would have considered me for such a position, and most important of all, to recognize that serving put me through school; there is no shame in that.

I’ve decided that the best thing to do going forward is to keep my goals in mind and take any opportunities that may come my way, but not to settle. Even serving has taught me skills that will benefit me in the future, like keeping a smile on my face and having patience. Anything I do from now until I get where I need to be will do the same.

Anna Gray

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