Nearly all of us have had jobs that are less than ideal, jobs where we ask ourselves, “What am I ever going to get out of this experience that’s transferable to anything else?” We may feel stuck, the here and now temporarily impeding our ability to look optimistically toward the future. Our confidence in what we once thought we were capable of achieving wanes with each day we dummy down to engage in the dance to fit in. Each day we feel we are going backwards instead of forwards, but the necessity of income or compulsory obligations to complete the experience, such as a graduate school internship requirement, keeps us in place.

A friend of mine, currently in a job where he feels like he’s sliding backwards instead of moving forward, has recently begun looking for a new job. Reviewing the requirements of possible, future opportunities, he was surprised to discover that his current duties of his lowly job were actually transferable. “I guess I did learn something in this job. I can make my current experience work on my resume to speak to this job announcement.”

Don’t be too quick to dismiss what you can take away from each experience. Even the jobs that we think will preclude us from advancing almost always offer us a lesson that we recognize only after looking back.