KANE: How to experience an experience to the fullest

Jonas Kane

Experience: It’s a word you’re going to hear a lot about during your four(ish) years at college.

Most specifically, you’ll hear it used in conjunction with gaining experience through work, internships, studying abroad, volunteering or going on service trips. All of these are touted as ways to have an impressive résumé upon graduation.

While doing any of these is a basic (if sometimes costly) way to pad your résumé, the true value of any of these undertakings should and can be much more than that. The point of having experience, after all, is to be prepared for the world that awaits you outside of Villanova.

Ironically, though, the true value of any experience begins even before you attempt any venture. It commences when you start to expand your thoughts to possibilities outside of your normal mindset.

This, however, is a bit more difficult than it sounds. As a lot of people who have had jobs or internships can tell you, it’s often quite easy to sleepwalk through your tasks without gaining anything worthwhile. Studying abroad puts you in a foreign climate, but that does not necessarily entail that you attempt to live in a manner any different from how you do at home. And providing service, while always a good endeavor to attempt, can sometimes leave people feeling as if they haven’t made a true difference.

The major unifying piece between these experiences – which are, admittedly, quite different – is that what you get out of any of them depends on your expectations and your ability to adapt.

In essence, this is why the process of gaining real experience begins well before you decide to take any major actions. It’s something that occurs throughout your life. What you learn in the classroom works as a way to hone and challenge the ways of thinking you already have, so that you’re more prepared when you jump into increasingly new and (hopefully) exciting situations.

Having experience means that you are equipped to handle being in these different situations. You can think outside the box when necessary. You don’t let your ingrained prejudices get in the way of potentially learning something new. You are willing to occasionally take chances. Perhaps most of all, you are open to the possibility of not always getting exactly what you want when you do take those chances.

I’m not attempting to write as an expert on this but merely as someone still undergoing this same evolution of learning from and interacting with the world.

During the last semester I spent in Cape Town, it was a struggle for me to work as a tutor with junior high kids from one of the local townships. While I liked the kids I worked with, it took some time for me to make any real headway, partially because of my own doubts about how helpful I could actually be.

I had a much easier time in my other various ventures abroad, which included befriending and getting to play the djembe with a small group of musicians from Zimbabwe (although I think I was partially responsible for having us nicely told to stop playing in a restaurant once).

From both good and bad experiences, I’ve been able to learn a lot about my own limitations, and more importantly to learn more about those around me.

More than being something you list on a résumé, experience is really about understanding and being comfortable with your place as just one of the billions of people in the world. This inevitably requires that you try activities you will hate or are terrible at doing. But it can also lead to you having a richer and fuller understanding of the life you lead.

For every person, a different mix of ventures will prove to be either right or wrong – except for finding a job, of course, because experience tells me you’re probably going to need money at some point.


Jonas Kane is a senior English and political

science major from Harrisburg, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].