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4 Things Work Experience Taught Me About Business and Life

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You never know when your next opportunity will appear. What my past job experience taught me about the land of the working is to never underestimate the time spent on any job, even if you love what you do or cannot wait for the next career move. The important thing is to be present and respond to each situation as if you are taking away a major nugget from that experience.

Here are 4 things I learned from my work experience:

1. The experience gained is vital to your future

I began my sports career as most do – an intern. But upper management could not have guessed that my long-term goal was to be the first minority woman to own a basketball team. That goal powered me through cold call sessions, sales training and foot canvassing in the Texas heat.

You’ve invested several years as a low-level service manager and now it is time to take hold of the dreams bubbling inside of you. Use your past as a springboard into a new opportunity. Even if the new break is unrelated you still have a ton of information at your advantage.  Connect the dots. Challenge what you think you know about how these two professions correlate; use what you need, leave the rest.

You don’t want to shortchange yourself, disqualify your experience, or take for granted the knowledge you have stored in your head.After working hard and learning everything about the process of selling people on sports, I hit $100,000 in new ticket sales and landed the senior director position the following year.

“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein 

2. Experience is useful for determining your market place value

How do you know you are worth sixteen dollars an hour or twenty-three? Your pay will probably be based on what you were paid in your last job and what you can negotiate. Invariably, you will not be able to determine that value on your own without past experience to at least point you in the right direction.

“You get what you can negotiate”. I learned this early in my professional career.  Before I took the full-time role with the basketball team I did my research. I learned that each year the National Basketball Association took a trip to three developing countries, and I have always wanted to go to Africa. In a post-internship interview with the team’s owner I expressed my desire to tag along. In 2011, I went on my first Basketball Without Borders trip to Johannesburg, South Africa. I was granted access because of hard work and my dedication to the organization.

Your negotiation strength lies on your track record of hard work and talent. Without experience how can you negotiate things like: pay, benefits, bonuses, commissions, and extras?

 

3. You must know when to leave

I am a believer of not forcing the inevitable. If you have dreams to start a business, write a book, or launch your photography business staying at your accounting job for another eight years is delaying the foreseeable. Know when you have learned all you need to take confident strides in the direction of your dreams.  The same belief applies to relationships and business partnerships.  

I released my first book in 2014, two years after my first job in sports, and a few months into a director position for a team in New York. I resigned that same year and have followed my appetite to write ever since, making a few stops along the way.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” – Seneca

4. Fail forward

You have heard this before but just because you have it does not make this statement less true. I will repeat it for those who, like me, believe that hearing things over confirms the truth that they hold. There are no bad breaks, failures, or mistakes. Everything that has happened to your personally and professionally happened for a reason.

Today, you may not understand that experience or know why, but challenge your perception of the situation. Challenge your emotions. Ask yourself, after the tears and fits, could something be learned here? If there is, use it. If there is not, reconstruct your thoughts around the situation and realize new thoughts that strengthen your position.

What have you learned from taking an internship or doing work experience at a company? Leave your thoughts below!

Earlina is a former sports executive turned writer. She is the author of Seven Tips to Breaking Into the World of Sports and The Beginners Guide to Finding Your Brave, out this month. Earlina received the Sports Launch 30 under 30 award and was nominated as Dallas's Emerging Leader by the eWomen Network. She has given speeches at Manhattanville College, the University of North Texas and West Point United Stated Military Academy. You can check out her website here: www.earlinagreen.com.

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