Advice Filter, Everybody Should Have One

8624443586_644e24d10d_mFor a long time, I dreamed of writing for a sketch comedy television show. It was my go-to response whenever anyone asked me, “What would you do if you could do anything?” I would get a few friends together and we would write a sketch show, that’s what.

I told this to a coworker of mine once, a guy in his late 50s, early 60s. His idea for how I could break into the industry: by riding an elevator with Lorne Michaels. That was it. I’d get in the elevator with him, get his ear, charm him, get a job, work my way up.

Obviously, this guy was simplifying things. I’m sure he didn’t actually believe that a job could be procured in the few minutes that it took to go up a few floors. However, he did seem to genuinely believe in the underlying idea– that to get into that industry, you do whatever you can to put yourself within proximity of one of these guys, then you try to pull strings.

This is a romantic and old-fashioned idea, and of course, bears very little resemblance to how things actually work. Really, you take classes at a comedy theater, build connections among your peers, put together a writing packet, send it around, etc. Yes, there is schmoozing, but there’s also a lot of practice and a lot of waiting. Or so it seemed that way when I researched the process years ago. Now, I don’t really know.

And that’s the point I’m trying to get at here; you need to take job advice from people of different generations with a grain of salt. Thirty years ago, staying four years at a job seemed like barely any time at all. Now, at certain companies, it’s an eternity. Wearing jeans to work might seem ridiculous to someone who got their start a few decades back. Now, it’s the norm. And working remotely? Your parents might not even know what that means.

But it’s not just people your parents’ age either. People who graduated five or ten years ago entered into a very different job market. And now they’ve gained their footing, gotten their years of experience, so they don’t know what it’s like to search for a job as a fresh college graduate with a resume filled with internships and student positions and all sorts of other hypothetical work experience.

So, seek advice, but don’t get discouraged. Pick through the information you get. Sort out the wisdom and the out-of-date ideas. In other words, be sure to process and analyze everything: the advice you get, as well as who it’s coming from.

(photo by Flickr user Heisenberg Media used under a Creative Commons License.)

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