Showing that you have experience relevant to your goals is a critical aspect of virtually all grad schools personal statements, application essays, and statements of purpose. Yet some of you apply with very little exposure to the field that you want to go into. As long as you have some relevant experience, how do you make the most of it?
I recently read “Seniority vs. Experience” in Taking Stock, by Benjamin Blech. “
Two men worked in a large office. One had been there as a manager for twenty years. The other, in an almost identical capacity, had joined the firm just three years before. Unexpectedly, the death of a vice president created an opening with far greater authority, status, and salary. Both men desperately wanted the job. The CEO, after great deliberation, gave the good news of his appointment to the employee who had been with the firm for only three years.
The overlooked candidate, deeply hurt, came to complain.
“How could you do this,’ he said to the CEO, “when I have so much more experience than he has?”
“No,” the CEO responded, “he has more experience than you.”
“How can that possibly be, if I’ve been her twenty years and he’s been here only three?”
“Simple,” said the CEO. “He has three years’ experience. You have one year’s experience twenty times over.”
Experience means nothing if we learn nothing from it. As Aldous Huxley put it, “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
Your job is to show that you have been constantly learning and growing and that you took your experience and made the most of it.
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