4 career don’ts from HBO’s ‘Girls’

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HBOgirlsThe second season of the hit “Girls” is premiering on HBO Sunday, January 13, and both fans and critics of the show are eager for its return. The show centers around four girls in their mid-twenties who live in New York City. It profiles their young-adult struggles such as landing a post-college job, becoming financially independent and interacting with the adult world. For a lot of twenty-somethings, the series  resonates deeply and speaks to the embarrassing challenges their generation faces.

There are valuable lessons to be learned from watching the series, especially when it comes to beginning your career. Check out these four career “don’ts” from “Girls.”

Don’t be too casual in interviews
Hannah, the show’s main character, has a tumultuous series of jobs throughout the first season, beginning with an unpaid internship she accidentally quits. When she scores an interview for a paying job soon after, Hannah burns the bridge by being too casual during the interview, first chatting about the neighborhood’s bar scene, then making her interviewer the subject of an inappropriate joke.
The lesson? This poor choice likely caused viewers to cringe, and it’s a lesson worth highlighting. No matter how casual the interview or informal the work setting, it is never okay to assume your potential employer is your friend or will understand when you’re making a joke. If you’re unsure whether something might cross the line, it’s better to avoid saying it.

Don’t treat your employer like your best friend
Another character on the show, Jessa, found out the hard way that an employer shouldn’t be a best friend. When Jessa becomes the babysitter to a young and hip family, she allows her carefree attitude to ruin the job. From wearing sheer dresses to inviting the father to a wild party, Jessa could have her own list of “career don’ts.” Jessa quickly loses her babysitting job and ruins the relationship with her ex-employer.
The lesson? Best friends have equal footing in a relationship; there is no boss or employee. Don’t try to be best friends with your boss — it won’t help your career or your work ethic.

Don’t excuse an employer who crosses the line
Hannah experiences another career “don’t” in her clerical job at a law office when her boss makes unwanted sexual advances toward her and other female employees. While the boss makes the biggest “don’t” of them all, the women in the office excuse his actions because “he doesn’t complain if I come in late” and “he gave me health insurance and an iPod for Christmas.”
The lesson? It’s never okay to have this kind of relationship at work. Don’t be afraid to make it clear to your employer that this kind of behavior makes you feel uncomfortable and is inappropriate. Immediately speak to your human-resources representative if any kind of behavior from your boss or co-workers makes you feel uncomfortable.

Don’t let pride keep you from getting a job
Unemployment is a frequent problem for the characters on “Girls,” whether they’re the cause of it or the unfortunate recipient. When searching for jobs, though, the characters sometimes take on an unearned sense of pride and claim they’re too good for some jobs, preferring to work for more than a year in an unpaid internship instead of taking a job at a fast food restaurant.
The lesson? While earning a college degree often opens up more opportunities, there are a number of factors that will determine how qualified you are for a job. First consider the economy and what jobs are available, as well as your work experience and salary history. Also factor in your financial needs — can you afford to take an unpaid internship or is a paycheck the main priority? A career is made up of many different jobs and experiences. It’s up to you to make the best of every situation, and it is not the economy’s job to make the best situation for you.

One Comment
  1. These are great career lessons from HBO’s Girls. While hilarious, the show is full of lessons for what not to do in your career. Especially cringe-inducing was Hannah’s inappropriate joke during her job interview. Whether your interview is in person or through online video, it’s important to remember that humor is subjective. What you think might be a hilarious anecdote can seem off-putting to your interviewer. It’s best to stay on the neutral territory of small talk and how your skills can add value to the organization. Save your comedy routine for open mic night.

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