While I am by no means a seasoned member of the workforce, I have learned many lessons in my years as a human / intern. Funnily enough, I have been reminded of these lessons recently while watching the new season of House of DVF. For those who haven't watched, the show features a group of girls vying to earn a position as Brand Ambassador for Diane von Furstenberg. Here are the top five lessons I have garnered from the show and from my own experiences:
Always Google Before Asking
This is essentially the phrase by which I live my life. It made me physically cringe when, in Episode 1, a contestant sitting inside DVF's New York office asked where the High Line was. Girl, please no, please don't ask where the High Line is when you are trying to get a job at DVF which is literally located alongside it. This girl probably should have known more about the High Line prior to this (see: Lesson 4). However, this situation is the perfect example of Lesson One. That which can be Googled should be Googled. Don't know where the High Line is? Instead of outing yourself as a newbie, just Google it. Not sure how to pronounce a word or a name? Please don't resort to rude withdrawal by saying that you won't even try to pronounce that. Please Google it. I can't tell you the amount of times people thought I actually knew what I was doing when, in reality, I had just Googled it in preparation. As they say: fake it, 'till you make it.
Do Your Research
This lesson goes hand-in-hand with lesson one. The easiest way to avoid most negative situations is to just do your research beforehand. This applies to everything from travel to job interviews to casual conversation. This concept is also applicable to your career beyond the initial job interview. My House of DVF example is the Episode 5 challenge in which the girls had to style a shoot based on a particular city. I personally felt as though most of the girls could have used some more street style research but, clearly, Leigh had it worst as she planned to do a beach look for Sao Paulo. If you are working on a particular project, make sure to do ample research to avoid mishaps like that one which was pretty tragic as a simple Google search (Lesson 1!!!) would have revealed that Sao Paulo is beach free. In general, your career will benefit from consistent research. You want to be the one with the right answers.
My example for this lesson is, quite obviously, Cat. She is the classic case of I'm-not-here-to-make-friends insecurity. Whenever a person like this shows up on reality TV, I am blessed with memories of the early seasons of ANTM and the girls who were hellbent on achieving their dreams of becoming a friendless model. I don't get it. The idea of isolating yourself as a strategy for career success is kind of hilarious. Whether you are in an internship or a full-time position, make it a point to develop good relationships with your colleagues because they will be crucial in lifting you up to the positions you desire. Besides, you want to have friends in the place where you spend 40+ hours a week. Also, it's just good to be a nice person.
Lesson four is an iteration of lessons one and two, that is, the importance of knowing things. I thought about saying that this is most important in creative fields, but I really believe it is important across all industries and positions. There are many instances of this from House of DVF because the Brand Ambassador position requires an individual who is not only fashion-forward and business savvy. Most importantly, I believe, they should be cultured because it will be their job to represent a woman who is the epitome of cultured sophistication, having been a princess, a fashion designer, a business mogul, CFDA president, and philanthropist all in one lifetime. Even if you aren't working for DVF or even in the fashion/arts industry, this applies to you. It is fundamentally important to be cultured---in areas of the arts and history as well as current world cultures---because it ultimately makes you a more intelligent and interesting person.
Stand Your Ground
The example I will use for lesson five is Allie from the Valley. During this season's design challenge, she received negative feedback on her Letterman jacket-inspired dress, only to then receive positive feedback from DVF on the prototype. During the styling challenge, the other girls questioned her decision to wear all black for her Paris shoot. However, she received the most positive feedback on her photo due to the groundbreaking fact that Parisian girls wear a lot of black! The lesson here is to stand your ground and be confident in your opinions, decisions, and ideas even when others are shooting you down. This isn't to say that you should be arrogant or closed-off to feedback, but you should always stay true to what you deeply believe is right.