lessons learned: devil wears prada

in the aftermath of sandy, i’ve been fortunate enough to have power. the lack of cable and internet has been lending itself to me watching dvd’s repeatedly. i’ve watched and rewatched devil wears prada a few times, mostly in the background as i do other things, and reflected a little bit on the practical work life lessons we could all benefit from. so if you are entering one of your first jobs and need a quickie “best practices” or you are entering your fifth job and need a refresher, read on.

1. “i bet a million girls would kill for that job.”

for most of your career you are going to be a dime a dozen – just the hard truth that you are replaceable. you should always be fighting for your job because there is always someone right behind you who may want it more.

2. what you wear is a reflection of you – or – dress the part

at the beginning of the movie, andy doesn’t dress for the job. granted, she likely just doesn’t get it (it being fashion). that’s alright. as you grow up, your style becomes more a part of you and you take it on in a different way. but you need to recognize that what you wear is a reflection of you and you should always dress the part (or dress for the job you want – whichever bit of advice you prefer). if you are a manager, you need to dress like one. figure out a way to pull your hair back but still look put together. figure out a way to do your makeup in 3 minutes. looking polished is employment 101.

3. always bring a notebook – and use it!devil wears prada

remember this look on andy’s face when miranda starts rattling off tasks to andy? seriously – this reallyis 101 – always carry a notebook into someone’s office. day 1. day 1,000. it says you are professional. you are listening. you are intent on doing a good job. ask questions to clarify and note the answers.

4. commit to sticking to it for one year & make career decisions

jumping around never looks great on a resume. you should be making a career decision when you change jobs not just because you are bored. what does this position add to your resume? where do you need to go next to achieve the next step that you want? in devil wears prada, andy says she just has to work at runway for one year – just one year and she can go any where she wants. keep that in mind – stick it out, learn a thing or two, develop some new skills, climb the corporate ladder.

5. never say no & never make excuses

perhaps the biggest lesson a newbie could learn is to never say no to a task and never make excuses. whatever it is, take it on. if devil wears prada you mess up, take ownership. andy never said no to a task given to her. and when her boss thought she messed up (when she needed to get miranda out of miami during a hurricane) she took ownership and let her boss know she did everything she could think of to get the task done.

6. whatever your job is, strive to be the best at it

if you are a ditch digger, you go out there and be the best ditch digger. if you are a cleaning lady, be the best cleaning lady. if you are a baker, make the best cupcakes. by the end of the movie, andy becomes the best assistant – more than miranda could have ever asked for. strive for that greatness and leave your mark on this world.


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