4 Valuable Career Lessons New Grads Can Learn from Reality TV

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Watching mindless, superficial reality TV shows can leave you feeling like you just binged on all of your favourite junk food. So good, yet so bad.

But who says reality TV has to be such a guilty pleasure? Hidden amongst the scenes of betrayal, tears, and trash talking are gems of wisdom you can apply to your work life. Here are a few of the best ones to refer to as you start your career (or, next time you need an excuse to binge-watch reruns of The Real World).

1. Always choose Paris

the hillsThe words “Lauren didn’t go to Paris” likely haunted then-intern Lauren Conrad of The Hills for quite some time after she passed up a trip to ‘The City of Love’ for a love that didn’t last. Her Teen Vogue coworker, on the other hand, jumped at the chance to travel to Paris, making connections and gaining valuable experience. Consequently, Lauren was left out of the loop back at the office and missed out on a lot of egg-citing opportunities.

When you’re just beginning your career, it’s important to establish yourself as hardworking and reliable, and demonstrate that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to be successful in your field. When you approach your job with a “can-do” attitude, your employer will be more likely to offer other opportunities and entrust you with more responsibilities. Be an eager, willing, helpful worker and always say “yes.”

2. Avoid office politics

jersey shoreIt’s the can’t-look-away trainwreck brand of drama that sucks us into reality television. Screaming matches, drunken bar brawls, drinks and hair extensions flying through the air – it’s entertainment at it’s trashiest. It’s okay to enjoy watching it, but it’s best not to engage in drama, especially at work. As a young professional, it’s important to maintain the trust and respect of your employers and colleagues. Keep it classy at the office and be mindful of how you handle workplace politics.

3. Take risks

american idolWhen you’re beginning a new job in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, it can be downright terrifying to jump right into your role and take on a load of new responsibilities. But there’s something to be learned from both the winners and losers of competitive reality shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race, and American Idol. Remember Idol hopeful William Hung? Although he performed a less-than-stellar rendition of Ricky Martin’s She Bangs during his audition, Hung became an overnight superstar and still considers himself a success. Whatever the outcome, taking risks can be rewarding, so don’t let your fear of looking like a fool stop you from going for it. Make a conscious choice to push yourself daily – share your ideas, speak up in the meeting, and think outside of the box.

4. Own up to your mistakes

real housewivesThe truth always comes out, especially when your actions are filmed and broadcast. But whether you’re a reality star or not, never try to cover up your errors in fear of being reprimanded or judged. More likely than not, your supervisor will know what to do to fix it so the quicker you come clean to your supervisor, the quicker the mistake can be handled.

Your employers don’t have time for excuses. Accountability will show maturity, earn you the respect of your superiors, and demonstrate that you care about the company you work for. Although it can be intimidating and you may feel vulnerable, you’ll only appear more human to the rest of the humans at work that have made mistakes, too.

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About the author

Sasha Campbell is a graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University with a degree in Communication Studies, as well as a diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Sheridan College. She is currently an intern at Global News in Toronto. Sasha loves storytelling, pizza, travelling, and hopes to one day have a career in television.