Career Lessons from Hannah Horvath of “Girls”
HBO’s “Girls” ended its first season earlier in June. “Girls” depicts the lives of four 20-something girls with highly alliterative names: Hannah Horvath, Jessa Johansson, Marnie Michaels and Soshanna Shapiro.
The show reveals the less glamorous side of being a privileged recent grad living in a big, expensive city as the 20-somethings struggle to navigate life, relationships and the job market. (Watch the season one trailer here.)
Hannah Horvath, played by series writer, star and sometimes director Lena Dunham, believes she has the talent to be a great writer…once she actually writes something.
Though Hannah is rarely seen putting pen to paper in the show, Hannah’s career ambitions and flops can teach young professionals a thing or two about the job market.
You May Not Be The Voice Of A Generation
In the “Girls” pilot, Hannah’s parents cut her off financially, insisting that her unpaid internship will lead to a job. Hannah replies, “I don’t want to freak you out, but I think I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice of a generation.”
Young professionals have a poor reputation among older workers. In fact, three out of four Americans believe that Millennials are less virtuous and industrious and more coddled and disrespectful than their elders. Hannah’s stubborn, yet self-doubting attitude isn’t helping the stereotype.
Young professionals are talented, but at times need a dose of reality and skepticism to survive in today’s job market.
Free Labor Doesn’t Always Get You Hired
Also in the pilot, Hannah asks her internship boss to bring her on for a full-time position, but she’s let go without the courtesy of being able to send in her memoir (a work in progress).
While I believe young professionals should accumulate several quality internships while maintaining good grades in school, Hannah’s predicament proves that it’s not always easy to break into the business, especially if you’re boasting a liberal arts degree.
Sometimes young professionals think free labor or low salaries proves their dedication to a company and guarantees a job or promotion in the near future. But that’s not always the case.
Diversify Your Skills
Before Hannah leaves the office of her unpaid internship, she asks her former boss why Joy Lin, a co-worker, was hired after her internship. He replies, “Joy Lin knows Photoshop.”
Not every job will require you to know Photoshop, but the message here is clear: You can’t be a one-trick pony. Diversify your skills now so potential employers will see you as an asset later.
What are some other career lessons young professionals can learn from Hannah Horvath? Share your thoughts in the comments section!