You Want Some Bad Career Advice?
Last weekend I ran into a girl I used to coach. She was happy to report she graduated from Syracuse and was beginning a Masters program. Forget her parents, I’d like to think I was partly responsible for her success. During practices I would sprinkle my own advice to the Varsity field hockey and lacrosse teams at the local high school. “Choose a college based on its curriculum and alumni program and not because it is close to your boyfriend, because chances are slim that you will end up marrying him despite what he promised you at Homecoming.”
But you can’t take everyone’s advice.
Is That An Actual Job?
My stepfather used to tell my oldest sister who spent her college summers in marching band competitions “you know you can’t make any money flag waving.” Presumably he worried she would get her degree and then try to pursue a career expressing dynamic passages of music accompanied by a marching band during half time at football games.
Wear Nice Pants
My first boss told me it was important for me to dress up everyday for work in heels and makeup and styled hair because when I spoke to a reporter over the phone they would be able to tell if I took care of myself. Understandably it would somehow be impossible to convince a securities reporter at the Wall Street Journal of the implications of a major lawsuit if I were wearing casual pants or had not taken the time to properly apply foundation to my face.
Don’t Get Drunk
My sister always told me I should never have more than one drink at the company Christmas party. This one I stand behind. I’ve been in the workforce for 17 years and I think this still holds up. You don’t want to destroy the hard work you’ve done all year by leaving your colleagues with the lasting memory of you tripping down a flight of stairs outside a banquet room while clutching a martini glass. I’ve stood beside a CEO when the guest of an employee walked up at him at the holiday party inquiring where her friend had gone. “Have you seen Sarah? She’s wasted and just left with two guys I don’t know.” Should her boss know that Sarah drank too many whiskey sours and might have been kidnapped? Now he’s going to second guess whether or not Sarah is cut out for customer service.
No One Wants To Hear About Your Problems
My sister who worked in human resources also said that you should keep your life private. “Your boss doesn’t want to hear about your personal problems.” For example, it’s not their problem you are having a hard time dealing with the finale of Homeland or that your best friend “accidentally” may have slept with your boyfriend.
Is There a Baby Inside You?
I’ve probably taken this one too literal because I’ve never spoken to a client about any of my pregnancies. I just didn’t want anyone to think that the fetus growing inside of me would in any way hinder my ability to do my job. Admittedly it got pretty stressful in the last few weeks. When I was seven months pregnant, for example, with my second child I got a phone call from a client asking me to meet his colleague for lunch. I started to panic. How do I explain the bowling ball beneath my shirt? It was probably too late in the game to say it was indigestion. “Here’s the thing,” he explained. “He’s blind just so you know ahead of time.” Sweet Jesus, there is a God, I thought. Now I won’t have to explain that I might not be available for a conference call in two months because I will be receiving an epidural or I won’t be able to hear everyone because the baby being pulled out of my vagina may be screaming.
In the end it’s always best to just show up to work on time and do your job. Also, don’t ever get in a hot tub with someone responsible for your quarterly review. It’s just a bad idea.