3 Lessons in Life and Young Professionalism: As Taught by Jessica Day

I am in love with Jessica Day, and I know I’m not alone.

Written By: Kayla Leverton

Jess and her New Girl squad take up way too much room on my DVR, mostly because they’ve made it look normal – and even a little bit cool – to be 30 years old, live with your best friends, and partake in ridiculous drinking games on the reg (True American meet-up, anyone?).

Maybe you didn’t realize it, but while they were making you feel a little bit better about where you’re at in life, the loft crew was also dropping life lessons. Jess Day and company have been teaching us lessons in young professionalism ever since she replied to that awkwardly worded want-ad on Craigslist.

For those of you who aren’t New Girl enthusiasts, let me give you a little context. The premise of the show is this: Jess Day moves into a loft with three best friends she meets by responding to an online advertisement for roommates. The sitcom follows the foursome (plus Jess’s non-roommate, lifelong best friend) as they navigate the complexities of adulting. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and tune in. I think you’ll love it – as a matter of fact, I’m so confident you’ll love it that if you don’t, your first round at the next Magnet Happy Hour is on me. (<-- Yep, I said it.)

Alright, back to those lessons for young professionals:

Lesson #1: If you can’t be yourself, you’re in the wrong place

Jess Day is the queen of knowing who she is and sticking to it. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend adopting Jess’s eccentricities in the workplace, there’s definitely a lesson for young professionals here.

As cliché as it might sound, authenticity really is the root of all personal happiness – that notion certainly carries over to your professional life. It’s impossible to feel good about going to work every day if you have to completely change who you are when you get there. If you’ve ever worked for an organization whose values and beliefs don’t jive with your own, you know how miserable it can be.

Whenever you’re exploring a new professional opportunity, be sure you’re weighing the personal fit into your decision-making process as much as the professional fit. Sure, the compensation package might be great and the benefits might be stellar, but if accepting those perks means having to act like someone you’re not for 40+ hours a week, is it really worth it?

Lesson #2: Passion > Paycheck

Speaking of compensation packages...

Jess Day is a classic example of someone who 100% prioritizes her passion over her paycheck. (She’s a public school teacher turned principal, for those of you who don’t watch the show regularly...yet)

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know she’s a fictional character and there’s no way she could actually live the life she lives off a public educator’s salary in real-life. I know prioritizing passion over a paycheck is easier said than done. Turning down an opportunity becomes exponentially more difficult as the dollar value soars, even if you know in your gut it’s not the right fit. But hear me out.

Yes, you need to make enough money to live comfortably. And yes, having a little money left over after you cover the essentials is nice when you need a spur-of-the-moment vacation or a brand-new LuLu Lemon wardrobe that suits your new yoga obsession (<--hypothetical, of course). But at some point, more money does not equal more happiness. Pouring your professional energy into something you’re truly passionate about, on the other hand? Those returns are not diminishing.

Lesson #3: Never Stop Learning

Not only is she a public school teacher, Jess Day is also a perpetual learner. Carpentry, cooking, hand-belling, Elvis-impersonating – you name it, she has learned to do it. We could all stand to be a bit more like Jess in this regard.

Taking it upon yourself to learn and apply new skills is the best shot you have at making yourself completely indispensable to your employer. Learning new things doesn’t have to mean pursuing formal educational opportunities.

Be the team member who’s willing to take on new challenges and try new things. Be the team member who’s willing to think differently and bring new ideas to the table. Be the team member who’s honestly committed to constantly learning, and I can almost guarantee you’ll be the team member best positioned for the the next promotion opportunity that comes around.

All jokes and New Girl references aside, elevating young professionals in the Madison area is something we take really seriously at Magnet. If you’re ready to join Madison’s premiere young professional networking organization, become a Magnet member today!