4 career lessons we can learn from 'New Girl'

While many of the show's topics border on the absurd (for example, character Nick Miller meets someone at the bar where he works who claims to be "Nick from the future"), sometimes you can actually glean a real life lesson out of an episode, such as having Thanksgiving in the wilderness just to prove your manhood will ultimately backfire.
Alright, that might not be such a revelation, but when it comes to the careers of the show's characters, there are some true lessons to be learned. Here are four of them.

Lesson No. 1: Don't let setbacks discourage you
Early on in season two, Jess learns she's been laid off from her elementary school teaching job due to budget cuts. While the news hits her hard, Jess is determined to move on. She takes on a job as a "shot girl" at a party thrown by roommate Schmidt. Given her sweet, somewhat innocent demeanor, she's not so good at the job. She finally starts acting a little more wild, and it works, winning over the crowd's approval. But even after finally getting the hang of the job, she realizes this isn't who she really is -- she's meant to be a teacher.
The lesson? The job market is tough. You may find yourself in a situation where you've been laid off or you just can't seem to find a job in the field you want. While there may be circumstances where you need to take any job you can get, that doesn't mean you should let go of the idea of pursuing your passion. Continue seeking out opportunities that excite you. Take classes to help build your skills. If you keep working at it, you'll eventually get to where you want to be in your career.

Lesson No. 2: Don't try to be someone you're not just to impress co-workers
Jess does eventually get a job at a new school. She quickly discovers that there's a clique of "cool" teachers, and Jess makes it her mission to get in good with the group. These teachers could be considered "mean girls," and they drive Jess to drink, make fun of her principal and eventually sneak into the principal's yard and get in his hot tub. They get caught, but Jess gets them off the hook by convincing the principal they just wanted to hang out. But it's a close call that could've cost Jess her job.
The lesson? If you're new to a company, you may want to do anything you can to fit in with other co-workers and make friends. While it's not a bad thing to have some camaraderie with your fellow colleagues, and it's nice if any of those relationships turn into friendships, you shouldn't try to force yourself into situations that may make you uncomfortable just to fit in. At the end of the day, you're there to do your job and be professional, and any friendships made are just a bonus.

Lesson No. 3: Don't be afraid to make a change
Ever since roommate Winston's basketball career ended, he's struggled to figure out exactly what he wants to do with his life. After working odd jobs, he eventually lands a promising position at a sports radio station. He finally has some stability and is doing well at work, but through some soul searching (read: drinking at a bar), he realizes that he isn't happy and wants to try something new. Just because the job seemed like a good opportunity given his sports background, that doesn't mean it was the right fit. He doesn't know what he wants to do, but he's willing to explore different options until he finds what makes him happy.  
The lesson? You may have worked in the same career for a while, and you've gotten comfortable. You're good at what you do, and you're on your way up the ladder. But something is still missing -- you don't feel fulfilled. If that's the case, it may be time to make a change. While change is scary, sometimes it's good to challenge yourself, especially if it means that you'll ultimately end up doing something that you truly enjoy.

Lesson No. 4: Address issues with a co-worker -- professionally
Schmidt, who works in marketing, is told he has to help train a new team member, Ed. Ed is an older man and seems to be eager to learn all he can from Schmidt. Schmidt underestimates Ed's savviness and treats him as if he doesn't know much about marketing, or the world. Ed plays along, and Schmidt confides in him about a big idea he plans to pitch to his boss. Yet at the next team meeting, Ed steals Schmidt's idea. The idea intrigues their boss, who asks Ed to write up a more formal plan. Schmidt ends up sabotaging Ed's presentation, but Ed vows that he'll get back at Schmidt.
The lesson? Sometimes a workplace can get competitive. You may even find yourself in a situation where a co-worker tries to take credit for something you did. Yet while the issue should be addressed, there are more professional and ethical ways to handle it than sabotage. Try first to talk to your co-worker and explain your concern. There's a chance that it could end up being a misunderstanding; perhaps he didn't purposely mean to steal your idea. If you find that this continues to be an issue, you should bring it up with your boss, but do so tactfully. Ask for a private meeting, explain the situation, bring examples, and see how your boss wants to handle it. You should never resort to unethical behavior to solve an issue with another co-worker, because you may end up being the one who gets into trouble.

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