Camille Darrell grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas, a town of not much significance except the enormous federal prison. She thought little of her future or what she would need to get there. She opted for Union College simply because it was closer than other Adventist colleges and many of her friends were going. The future unnerved her a bit because of its uncertainty.

Union has changed all that.

In May, Darrell will graduate with a degree in business with emphases in marketing and management, and the knowledge that her experiences will make her a valuable employee anywhere God leads.

She now approaches life with the confidence of one who has already stepped out of her comfort zone many times through on- and off-campus internships, leadership opportunities and a willingness to try new things. Those experiences helped Darrell become a highly-sought employee by building skills she might not have naturally learned in the classroom such as leadership, communication, creativity and grit.

Over the last two summers, she completed two internships at Florida Hospital in Orlando. Excited about the marketing face of business, she couldn’t wait to experience a world-class marketing team. Even more, she worked in areas she—and most students like her—scarcely think of, such as supply-chain decisions, office dynamics and the Florida humidity.

“You learn quickly out there what you need to know and what you wish you knew better,” said Darrell. “There are no failed experiences if you learn from them, even if you simply learn what you don’t want to do for the rest of your life. Disappointment doesn’t mean failure.”

Quite the contrary, disappointment can turn into additional experience.

Last school year, Darrell looked forward to another season as a Union Warriors basketball player. But not enough women tried out and Union had to cancel the season. Rather than wallow in frustration and disappointment, Darrell embraced a position at Union’s Integrated Marketing Communications office.

“Sure, I was sad about the lost season,” she said. “But Union taught me to make everything a learning experience.” Darrell laughed at how like a marketing person she already sounds. “I know it sounds like talking points, but it’s real. Union taught me how experience outweighs disappointment.” In her new position, she put her classroom education to work, conducting focus groups to help the college’s marketing efforts. She continues to learn and help with social media and manage the office.

“I love how the longer I work, the more trust my coworkers have in me.” None of this experience would have happened had she spent the year working on her free throws.

“I really love being on the creative end of Union’s marketing, having already experienced the receiving end.”

Just as vital to Darrell’s education is club activity. She not only serves as communication director for the very popular Business Club, but she also served as club president for the Warriors Fan Club for two years. The purpose of the club is to encourage support for the school’s varsity sports players and teams. In two years, she more than doubled the number of members.

“Many studies show that employers are not looking for graduates with specific technical skills,” said Dr. Frankie Rose, Union’s vice president for Academic Administration. “They want employees who can solve problems, communicate effectively, work on a team and won’t give up. We strive to teach those skills in the classroom and through internships, campus leadership positions and other extracurricular work experience.”

Rose believes every student should seek out experiences as Darrell did. “Union strives for each student to become a highly-sought graduate by creating experiences for them to develop the skills employers want,” he said. “That’s one thing that makes the Union experience special.”

Mike Mennard is a freelance writer and musician in Lincoln, Nebraska.