It’s a terrific idea for aspiring entrepreneurs to work in the industry they’re targeting, whether they are college business majors or 50-year-old refugees from corporate careers.

“You will learn about the industry supply chain, the key industry financial metrics, why customers buy certain products, and the competition’s products,” says Edward D. Hess, professor of business administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

“You will learn about the plumbing of a business: The infrastructure of quality, financial, HR, and customer management processes, controls, and information systems. All of this will make your transition to entrepreneurship easier. Work hard and learn everything you can,” he says.

You may benefit from the fact that companies that have downsized need extra help right now. If you can demonstrate that you’re a quick study who will indeed be a help to the company’s efforts–and not a hindrance–your chances for success will increase.

Photo by pixie_bebe.