a stepping stone

a stepping stone

Some situation, circumstance, or experience that serves to assist one in reaching or progressing toward a goal or desired outcome. While I wasn't paid during my internship with the law firm, it acted as a superb stepping stone to getting hired as a full-time legal assistant at another firm.
See also: step, stone
References in classic literature ?
After reflecting a moment, temporarily sheltered beneath the little wicket of the prison of the treasurer of the Sainte- Chappelle, as to the shelter which he would select for the night, having all the pavements of Paris to choose from, he remembered to have noticed the week previously in the Rue de la Savaterie, at the door of a councillor of the parliament, a stepping stone for mounting a mule, and to have said to himself that that stone would furnish, on occasion, a very excellent pillow for a mendicant or a poet.
The preferment seemed to him in the nature of a well-merited reward for painstaking and intelligent service, and as a stepping stone to posts of greater importance and responsibility; but, on the other hand, he had been married to the Hon.
In short, the distaste of the worthy naturalist for beef was not unlike that which the shepherd sometimes produces, by first muzzling and fettering his delinquent dog, and then leaving him as a stepping stone for the whole flock to use in its transit over a wall, or through the opening of a sheep-fold; a process which is said to produce in the culprit a species of surfeit, on the subject of mutton, for ever after.
Proudfoot had looked upon that match as a stepping stone back to the international set-up, two years after suffering a neck injury while playing for the Reivers but he now faces a further lay-off.
I seem to be a stepping stone for a lot of people,'' says Henry, who often plays high-profile gigs such as the multi-artist show he headlined earlier this month at the House of Blues in West Hollywood.