Mad Men. Great TV viewing, even better career advice. From a crash-course in everything a workplace shouldn’t be (sexist, racist and highly unproductive) to a visual warning of why you shouldn’t drink at work, it has everything. Here at GoThinkBig however, we love an underdog and therefore have found the most valuable workplace lessons to come from none other than the unassuming Peggy Olson. We’re sure series 7 will bring us even more, but for now, here’s what Miss Olson’s taught us…
We’ve seen Peggy’s resilience from the first episode and her first day at Sterling Cooper when she was introduced to the office by Joan and told to be always be a supplicant. Peggy’s disapproval about the way she and other women are treated and expected to act is obvious, yet she bites her tongue, gets on with her job and doesn’t let anything come between her and her career. And sometimes you just have to do this. It might be a bar job or retail position and you might absolute hate it and everyone involved, but by keeping your head down and working hard, you’ll power through and pick up some great transferable skills until your next career move comes along.
We can see right from the first season that Peggy is a persistent person; she knows that role she wants within the company and she keeps going until she gets it. This is key to her bagging her Copy Writing role and numerous other positions and it’s key to you bagging your dream career! So when that great contact who you desperately want to meet for coffee keeps knocking you back, change your tactics and try again; when the company you’d love to work for say they have no vacancies right now, keep checking back; when your CV gets rejected for the 14th time, change it, refresh it and keep applying. Persistence, people. It pays off.
From the first time secretary Peggy tells the Creative team they’re approaching a campaign wrong to the first pitch she presents solo, confidence is paramount in getting Peggy to where she wants to me. But don’t think she walked into that room to tell a room full of men in much senior positions that women wear lipstick for themselves as much as for men with a bucket of confidence and sass. Haven’t you heard of fake it ’til you make it?! Even when you know that you’ve got a great idea or a brilliant presentation it can take a little bit more to put yourself out there and present it. The answer? A few deep breaths and a quiet confidence. It’ll get you far, just ask Peggy.
In the fourth season of Mad Men, Peggy takes matter into her own hands as Sterling Cooper is going under to land the Topaz account over the holiday weekend unannounced to her partners at the firm and although that’s a bit drastic (it is TV afterall!), whatever your position right now, whether you’re job hunting, on work experience or in your first job you should use your initiative. All. the. time. It can be as simple as making use of that marketing lecturer/speaker you once met and asking if they know of any vacancies in the industry. Or noticing when your colleague’s mugs are empty and offering to make them a tea. Yeah, do that. It’s a real winner.
Going above and beyond
Peggy constantly goes above and beyond to prove to her boss Don and also the world that she can do anything a man can do and although (again) this means pulling a few all-nighters, in reality it can be as simple as going out of your way to find the correct person to address your cover letter to, or when you’re on an editorial internship, finding an image to go with the copy you’ve just produced. Or y’know, filling up the empty mug you’ve just spotted.
Knowing when to leave
*Spoiler alert* Frustrated at the prospect of forever living in Don Draper’s shadow, Peggy decides to leave Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and head to a competitor and, whilst viewers cried a little in despair, you can’t blame her for wanting a new challenge and the same goes for you. Yes, you should be loyal and respect the company you’re working for, but it’s your career and if you want a change or a new challenge or even a career change then go for it! Just be smart. Like, don’t job hunt on your lunch hour in front of your boss. And don’t, I repeat DO NOT bad mouth your boss or any past employer or company at a job interview. Ever.
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