Experience. It’s a resume item that sets successful applicants apart from other candidates. There is no better way to figure out that “five-year plan” than by gaining diverse experience in your industry. Discover what you enjoy, and more importantly what you don’t enjoy, before you start applying for full-time positions. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Diverse Industry Experience Makes You Knowledgeable in Multiple Departments:

Take time to test the waters, especially when you’re an intern. If you’re assigned to one department, learn all you can from your peers and leaders, but don’t stop there. Don’t be afraid to venture out and take time to shadow other colleagues to learn how their job affects yours every day. Finding appreciation in your co-workers’ daily tasks can only enhance your performance in the future, and maybe spark your interest in something new.

Work with Different Personalities & Management Styles:

It’s okay that everyone doesn’t get along; we’re all adults here. That said, being a professional means that you respect the different personalities on your team and use them to your company’s advantage. While some people may be extraverted networking experts, others might be introverted creative types, and that diversity is what makes a stronger team. If your supervisor is not your exact match, collaborate to find out how you can best achieve your mutual goals. It can be a struggle at first, but there’s power in opposing opinions.

Figure Out Your Style Before the Full-Time Gig:

While differing opinions are healthy, some companies and employees are not a good fit, no matter how hard they try. While you’re gathering experience, pay attention to the values, upper-management style, company culture and even the office layout. Do you fit in? Is the benefits package what you would hope for? Do they offer professional development? These aspects are key for a healthy work-life balance. Initial research can save applicants and companies from disappointment.

When you’re searching for internships, try going out of your comfort zone for a semester. Work with people who are not quite like you, gain insight into local and national clients and apply for that huge company that makes you sweat even thinking about an interview. You never know what could happen. You might find your niche, or you’ll figure out what you don’t like, which is just as valuable.

Take a chance on an experience that’s out-of-the-box. You won’t regret adding it to your resume.