The career do’s and don’ts we learnt from re-watching Friends

There's a lot you can learn from the classic nineties sitcom Friends, how to succeed (and not succeed) in your work life. Here's their greatest life lessons...
Avantika Vaishnav
Avantika Vaishnav

The one where… Debut gives you many reasons to re-watch Friends! Netflix has answered all our prayers, and the complete 10 seasons of Friends are now available online to re-watch over and over again. Bye bye productivity…

But here at Debut, we’re not here to make you feel guilty about watching multiple episodes a day. We believe Friends is actually full of good career advice and inspiration we can all use to get ahead.  If you needed an excuse to re-watch the much-loved nineties classic (we know you don’t though), then keep on reading…

DO use your contacts like Rachel

We all know the saying, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!’ and this runs true with the success of Rachel’s career in Friends. Whilst being possibly the worst waitress ever to be employed by Central Perk, she gets a break when Joey excitingly tells her that he can get her an interview at a clothing store.

Her next career change to her dream job in her dream store, Bloomingdales, stems from her meeting Mark whilst out having lunch at the Moondance diner where Monica works in Season 3. He manages to get her an interview and really kick-starts her career in the fashion industry. We therefore learn that there is nothing wrong with getting a little help from our friends (excuse the pun) to boost your career!

DO remain optimistic like Monica

We’ve all got to start somewhere, and realistic Monica is the archetypal character of this belief. With her life ambition to become a top chef, she has to work in some embarrassing jobs before making her way up the culinary ladder.

By embarrassing, I mean a 1950’s style diner where she has to wear a costume and dance on the tables. If you think you’ve got it bad, then just think of Monica! Ultimately, Monica doesn’t give up, she ‘pays her dues’ and eventually becomes a chef in one of Manhattan’s top restaurants.

DO what you enjoy like Joey

Apart from eating, Joey’s passion has always been acting and although he knows that it’s a hard industry, he continues to pursue what he enjoys most and eventually lands the role of Dr. Drake Ramoray on the popular soap, ‘Days of Our Lives.’ Although short-lived, he manages to land a few other parts, including being a butt-double and modelling for a venereal disease prevention campaign.

Later, in Season 7, Joey finally gets back on TV screens in another soap opera. While it’s important to try different things over the span of your career, learn from Joey. Take the time to really learn what you enjoy and what makes you happy, chase it, and don’t let it go.

DO remember that work isn’t everything like Chandler

In season 9 Chandler’s job relocates him away from Monica and the gang to Tulsa. Over many episodes we watch the struggle that the distance has on their marriage, and because of this Chandler quits his job!

Remember that work is not everything, feeling both mentally and physically happy in both work and home life will help boost your confidence, and will ultimately show in the office. It is not worth sacrificing work-life balance for a better salary.

DON’T lie on your CV like Joey

Most of us wish that our CV’s were slightly better than they actually are, but if we learn one thing from Joey and his multitude of auditions, is that you should never, ever lie on your CV as it can result it unfortunate circumstances.

In season 3 whilst auditioning for a Broadway production, Joey gets caught out when he is instructed to run a dance audition as he had falsely claimed to have copious amounts of experience – needless to say he didn’t and it was a disaster!

DON’T mix business and pleasure like Ross

Learning from any of Ross’ mistakes would be beneficial for your career. From a seemingly stable career as a palaeontologist working at the New York Museum of Prehistoric History to a professor at NYU, Ross manages to entangle his personal life with his professional one.

These blunders include getting caught sleeping with Rachel at the museum in Season 2, dating his co-worker Charlier Wheeler, and in the tradition of keeping the best to last, dating a student in Season 6! I think it is safe to conclude that it is best to keep your work life and personal life separate.

DON’T feel uncomfortable in the workplace like Chandler

In Season 3, Chandler’s boss expresses his appreciation by smacking him on the back-side, which make him feel extremely uncomfortable and on edge around his superior. In any situation, this is not acceptable and if you feel violated in the work-place then take Chandler’s advice, and tell someone! If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s not right.

DON’T lose sight of your goals like Phoebe

While you may feel stuck after graduation or in a job that just isn’t you, – with no short-term options to escape- stay focused on your career aims and goals. The only notable sense of fame Phoebe attains is in Season 2, when a music video is made for Smelly Cat.

In Season 3, Phoebe’s old singing partner returns and ends up selling Smelly Cat to an advertising agency, but Phoebe never wanted this, and she doesn’t stray from her passions for the sake of money! Phoebe creates music for pleasure rather than money, and although we all need an income, her moral stance is admirable.

As much as Friends is a wistfully comical masterpiece, it bears a thought that the story-lines and characters reflect on some serious career lessons that can benefit us all. Beneath the jokes and romantic partners, all six characters finish season 10 in careers that make them happy and healthy. Through hard work and determination, Friends gives us the career motivation we all need this year (so keep on watching)!

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