Girls is a popular TV show on HBO that premiered in April 2012. The show was created by and stars Lena Dunham as Hannah. The comedy-drama follows 20-something-year-old girls who live in New York City in 2012.
The key female characters include Hannah Horvath, an aspiring writer in her mid-20s, her roommate Marnie Michaels, and Jessa Johanssen -- bohemian world traveler who rooms with her cousin Shoshanna, a shy college student. The TV series shares insights into modern life for women in their 20s "one mistake at a time."
There are many career lessons that women can learn from Season One
Parent Funding. Hannah gets a surprise visit from her parents. Her parents advise her that they are cutting off the financial support that they have been providing for two years since her graduation from college. As parents it is the right move -- as women need to develop financial independence and a sense of maturity about their career pursuits. Hannah should have considered other jobs while pursuing her unpaid writing dream rather than imposing on her parents who have modest incomes and need to plan for their own retirement.
Dress Code. It is important to dress professionally for job interviews and after you have secured the job. Jessa initially dresses for her childcare interview in underwear and a sheer sheath. Her cousin Shoshanna wisely advises her that she will be interviewing with parents and around children and needs to cover up.
Internships. Hannah had a non-paying writing internship for two years. This is too long for a free internship. Internships have a value and a purpose: to expand your skills and increase your experience so that you can position yourself for a paying job. If salaried writing jobs were not available, Hannah could have explored other free internships to round out her experience in more areas to make her more attractive to future employers. After a few failed job efforts, Hannah eventually finds a job in a café.
Interviews. "Interviews are serious business" says Gary Daugenti, founder of Juststaff, a leading recruiting firm. Hannah has a job interview and blows it because she drops in jokes, sexual innuendos and casual conversation. Interviewing is serious business and should be approached as a serious conversation. Hannah should have handled the interview as a mature professional without jokes and sexual innuendos. Since Hannah was not working, this interview should have been top priority for her. It was in her field of expertise and it was a paying job.
Drugs. No drugs on the job ever. Jessa secures her child care position and proceeds to smoke pot with her boss. He offered and she accepted. In any case doing drugs in many states is illegal and certainly most employers screen for drugs and forbid it on the job.
Sexual Harassment. Hannah gets a clerical job in an office. The fact is that the boss touches the female staff inappropriately. It is a non-discussed exchange that they put up with in order to earn extra perks such as coming in late and taking time off. After a few incidents, Hannah approaches her boss and calls him on his actions. He denies this and she quits. Hannah should have reported him to the EEOC to elevate the case. Hannah left frustrated without a paying job and he was not penalized for his behavior.
Job attention. Jessa's childcare job has her watching children while in a playground park. Jessa becomes involved in conversation with other nannies and she forgets about the children. The children run away and hide causing her to frantically search for them. The children tell their parents that she lost them, but lucky for her she was not fired. Paying attention to job duties and activities while on the job is critical. Jessa is very lucky that the children were not kidnapped and that she was not fired on the spot.
There are many career lessons young women can learn from the mistakes of the characters from Girls Season One.
Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti is a leading thought leader on women, the workplace, and careers. She is the author of 10 books, a regular media contributor, and global speaker. Her most recent book is "Women Lead." Tracey is a visiting scholar at Stanford University Media X program. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.traceywilen.com