Learning By Experience

Charles - Fairfax, Virginia
Entered on December 9, 2011

From the tender age of five, when our parents send us off to our first day of kindergarten, we are taught the importance of education. The first 13 years of our lives are fairly routine. We go to school and learn the curriculum as mandated by the state. For the most part we learn the same information that thousands of other kids learn. So what really makes the difference down the road when it’s me and the next guy competing for a job? It’s our life experiences and how we grown from them.

Growing up as the baby in the family I’ll admit I was quite spoiled. Getting whatever I wanted without having to pay for it was great, something no one would deny. Eventually though I began to hear constantly from my sisters “You’re so spoiled” and “You’re never going to be able to do anything for yourself”. My egotistic personality wanted to show them they were wrong, so I decided I would apply for a job and start earning my own money. I had been taking marketing classes in high school and felt with all we were taught about job interviews and such that I would be fine in an interview.

My first job Interview was at a hat store, the walls were decorated with brightly colored hats in all directions. I was dressed in my blue button-up, sleek blue tie, and freshly ironed khaki pants. I wanted to look as confident as I felt. This interview would not go as expected though. I was asked to sell the interviewer the stapler on his desk. I suddenly thought to myself “Oh Crap”. “When were we ever taught to sell a stapler in marketing class?” I thought we would be taught everything we would needed to know to nail a job interview. My mouth was frozen as if I had just taken a big gulp of a slushee. My cheeks became rosy red from embarrassment. The room was dead silent; you could have heard a pin drop. He was just staring at me, as if shooting lasers at me with his eyes. The word “failure” just kept playing through my head. I could no longer bear the embarrassment and walked out.

Schooling cannot teach a person how to handle his or her first job interview. Sure one might learn things that are helpful in the interview but there are certain aspects that can’t be taught. These include dealing with emotions and how to improvise. These aspects can only be learned through experience. Job interviews are a part of life and everyone must experience their first one. Now they might not have the same experience I had my first job interview but in general the first one is usually viewed as the toughest. Because of different experiences everyone develops his or her own opinion and create a certain attitude. I know from mine I wanted to work on my self-confidence, something I thought I had a lot of.

A person can never truly know their opinion on something until they experience it for themselves. If you just base your opinion on what you are taught or hear, then you lose your ability to think for yourself. Starting at a young age one is taught to think for his or her self. As a child when you used the excuse, “So and so told me to do it” your parents would usually respond with, “If so and so told you to jump off a bridge would you do it”. Though at that time it seemed like just something parents had to say, it actually had some meaning. When learning by experience you learn to think for yourself.

With experience one can prepare for similar situations in the future. I have encountered many situations where previous experiences have helped me make a decision. In a job interview, if person X and Y have the same education, but person Y has experience in a similar job, more than likely person Y will get the job. Someone with experience will have the edge because he or she has dealt with on –the-job situations that can’t be taught. One can be told what might happen but does not know the pressure and emotions one has to deal with.

Everyone has different beliefs and this influences decision making. Beliefs are usually based on emotions which can only be taught through life experiences. It creates our personalities, another thing that cannot be influenced by education. Though it is good to have factual information, in the end I believe that experience is more influential than education.