My Biggest Regret

When I was in college, I began the search for an internship for the summer between my junior and senior years. I checked my school's recruiting web site and found an intriguing posting for a small company named Mondoro, a furniture and home accessory manufacturer located in Hong Kong. The position was designed to be a mixture of day-to-day operations, marketing, and involvement with local charities. Included in the internship was airfare to Hong Kong, room and board, and a small monthly stipend.

I applied for the position online and interviewed with the Mondoro's founder and CEO, Anita Hummel, on campus. I was impressed by her business savvy and her vision for her company. Apparently, she was impressed with me because she offered me the internship. I happily accepted, and prepared to spend my summer in Hong Kong.

A couple of months later, as I was doing my taxes for the previous year, I found out that I owed the IRS about $1,000 as the result of some independent contract work I had done the previous summer (how that all worked would have been nice to know earlier).

Worried about earning enough money to pay tuition in the fall, I decided that I couldn't afford to spend my summer in Hong Kong and canceled my plans with Anita. In turn, I found an internship with a financial reporting company in Philadelphia that paid 14.25 an hour.

To make a long story short, my summer was a complete bust. Within a month of moving to Philadelphia, both the person who interviewed me and the HR rep who prepared for my arrival had left the company. I found myself literally copying data from one window and pasting it in another window for eight hours a day, five days a week. Add that experience with a myriad of other bad experiences (sleeping on the floor, company car breaking down, getting stuck in West Philly at 1 AM, etc.), and you could pretty much say that I wish I'd gone to Hong Kong.

In fact, I consider this to be my biggest professional regret up to this point in my career. Mondoro may not have paid much financially, but it would have given me a significant amount of experience and adventure. Instead, I completed an internship that I don't even put on my resume.

The takeaway from all of this is that I learned to choose opportunities that will strengthen, enlighten, and stretch me instead of opportunities that appear to make more financial sense in the short term. My solace in making the wrong decision is that I learned this lesson. And the fact that my copy and paste skills are pretty dang awesome.