4 Career Lessons From HBO's 'Girls'

HBO Girls career lessons

By Susan Ricker

The second season of the hit show "Girls" is premiering on HBO Sunday, Jan. 13, and both fans and critics alike are eager to see what happens to the protagonists, four girls in their mid-20s struggling with everything from landing a post-college job to managing their finances for the first time.

In fact, there are valuable career lessons to be learned from watching the series, especially for those starting their first jobs. 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, 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 your best friend. When Jessa becomes the babysitter for a young and hip family, her carefree attitude ruins the job. From wearing sheer dresses to inviting the father to a wild party, Jessa could have her own list of career don'ts. She quickly loses her 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.

More:Dealing With Mean Girls In Your Office? You're Not Alone

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 behavior inappropriate. Immediately speak to your human-resources representative if any behavior or action from your boss or co-workers makes you uncomfortable.

Don't let pride keep you from getting a job
Unemployment is a frequent problem for the show's characters, whether they're directly to blame for it or not. 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, for instance, to work for more than a year in an unpaid internship instead of taking a paying 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's not the economy's job to make the best situation for you.

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