Smashing Stereotypes: Romanticised young professional life isn’t all it seems

Career Advice
06 July 2021 | Career Advice | annie blinkhorn

We’re told from a young age that what happens on the big screen isn’t real, no matter how wonderful those spellbinding Disney movies are. Of course, even as we grow up, escaping to the wonders created by Hollywood for a few hours to forget about the worries and the woes of everyday life is a necessity for many. But often, the glitz and glamour sweep us up into a world of make believe, leaving us disappointed when real life doesn’t quite match up. Reality tends to hit when you enter the working world, and the lifestyle of a young professional really isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be with low pay and long hours and not as many lunch lunches or free wardrobe as rewards. Yet some movies almost got it right, with showcasing valuable work experience and training in the job proving that non-traditional routes like apprenticeships may work better for people.

“A million girls would kill for this job”

For many, the ultimate fashion career dream is to work at a publication influencing each designer and high street store’s decision. The Devil Wears Prada flaunted the success and lavish lifestyle of working in fashion with our leading lady Andy having a ‘rags-to-riches’ experience in what sounded like an amazing job. However, this was tarnished by the ridiculous and often completely inappropriate tasks set by her boss, resulting in losing friends, relationships, and letting the job completely consumer her life.

The ultimate lesson to learn here is to research the role and lifestyle and to fully analyse the job specification before jumping into a career change.

“What, like it's hard?”

90’s classic Legally Blonde showed us all that determination and grit will get you where you want to go. Elle Woods unconventional Harvard admission essay in video form stood out from the crowd, which was often easy with dog Bruiser in tow, but she still worked hard to get her where she wanted to be – top of her class in Harvard Law and proving everyone wrong in the process. Of course, in the real world, you wouldn’t be expected to stand up in court and defend a client in a high-profile murder case in your first year of studies.

“I Don't Need Pity. I Need A Paycheck”

In real life, Erin Brockovich, a single mother of three, was instrumental in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), despite her lack of education. The case settled for $333 million and kick-started her career as a legal clerk and consumer advocate. Whilst Brockovich wasn’t your traditional legal counsel, she was able to develop and learn on the job while also supporting her family.

Working on the case, Erin was tasked with filing and checking documents, being involved in key meetings and discussions, and assisting where she could on the case – similar tasks that one would do on an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are a great option for a career change, allowing you to retrain and gain qualifications whilst also gaining an income. Remember there are many different routes into a professional career, from vocational courses to degree level study and apprenticeships.

Taking on adult study later in your career is also an option. A range of courses for adults have been launched under the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee by Newcastle College, allowing eligible adults aged 24+ who have not achieved a Level 3 qualification to progress in their education through free training.

“Shaken, not stirred”

James Bond is depicted as having the ultimate hyper-polished lifestyle; he travels the world, always gets the girl, and has flash cars to spare. But is the life of a spy really as it seems? Let’s face it, an MI6 agent would never use their real name or drink on the job, and for being a success, you wouldn’t expect them to have their cover blown on every mission they undertake. A key quality that MI6 look for in their agents is strong ethical beliefs, and with Bond regularly taking moral shortcuts, would he even make it through recruitment stages? The stereotype of needing ultimate combat skills isn’t the reality of Britain’s frontline either.  

In reality, M16 is now on a mass recruitment drive looking for those motivated to make a difference. Could true espionage be for you? Be sure to check out MI5’s new Instagram account and see for yourself!

Ultimately, Netflix probably isn’t the best place to look for career inspiration, as much as we would all love those dreams to be a reality. Ensure to do your research and always reach out if you need support or advice along the way.

Article by Newcastle College


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