How Emily In Paris Is A Great Example Of What *Not* To Do In Your Career

By | Friday, November 20, 2020

Though entertaining, Emily crosses invisible boundaries I’d never recommend for a newcomer in the workplace.

Even though it was vastly unbelievable, Emily in Paris was compulsively bingeable and I’m looking forward to season 2.

It’s career advice, however, is simply off-the-mark.

Though this was a show I could lose myself in, while forgetting about the raging pandemic among and other uniquely 2020 concerns, I nevertheless felt as if the show emphasized what not to do in your career, versus what you should be embracing, instead. So while you should enjoy the show for your personal entertainment, as far as professional takeaways, there are probably more lessons on what not to do, more than anything.

Check out a few of those tips below!

1. Don’t Be Unwilling To Assimilate To New Work & Life Culture

When Emily arrives in Paris, she is repeatedly told to learn French and make attempts to understand the culture. Instead, she disregards this, forcing those around her to accommodate to her. However, when entering a new workplace, curiosity is your friend. You’ll make a much better impression if you attempt to fit in and understand the norms instead of automatically dismissing them. While there is certainly a time and place to push back against outdated routines, this lands much more effectively if you’ve already made an effort to really understand the environment you’re in, first.

2. Don’t Forget That Success Is Usually Hard Work — Not Overnight

Emily lives every millennial’s dream, rising effortlessly to influencer status through images of burgers and croissants. In reality, success is hard work, even if your job is social media. It takes time, precision, planning, innovation, and creativity to amass a large following and, though I don’t have any experience entering the influencer sphere myself, I’ve rarely seen an influencer rise to their status overnight, as it happens with Emily. As such, any 20-something at the start of their career should keep in mind that their goals won’t be achieved in a matter of weeks, despite what Emily in Paris may portray. Their journey is likely to be more like that of Emily’s best friend or her romantic interest, both of whom work long hours in jobs that are a mix of rewarding and disappointing and whose career trajectory is anything but linear. 

Gabriel, Emily’s neighbor, friend, and crush, works for years without attracting the notice of top investors. He puts off his dream of opening his own restaurant since he needs to save money and when he does manage to embrace his lifelong goals, they are altered as he must open a restaurant he can afford, which happens to be outside of Paris. This, more than Emily’s sudden rise to influencer status in France without even a basic knowledge of the language, is a much more realistic career trajectory, filled with hard work that doesn’t always spell “Success,” and eventual success that ends up as a partial compromise. I’m glad the show added these elements of realism, though Emily’s story is anything but. 

3. Don’t Be Presumptuous — Professionalism Is Key

Perhaps one of the most entertaining elements of Emily in Paris are the insights into Emily’s boss’ love life. In reality, though, this breach of professionalism is unlikely to get you very far. Emily is endlessly curious to get to know her boss better, outside of the work place, and while this is a sentiment many of us can undoubtedly relate to, her means of doing so, from listening in on private conversations to outright asking her personal questions, simply isn’t OK.

Particularly as a new member of a team, though informal happy hours are acceptable and encouraged, Emily crosses invisible boundaries I’d never recommend for a newcomer in the workplace. Emily’s tenacity and drive are commendable, but if she channeled those energies into learning French or attempting to assimilate into French culture, instead, those skills may serve her much better in the long-run. 

Another unprofessional aspect of the show is the way Emily somehow blends her work life and love life seamlessly. She has Gabriel host a professional dinner for her, invites dates to be her plus one to events where she’s hoping to land clients, and even dates the son of an important client despite an ongoing project with said client. While this adds to the scintillating watch-ability of the show, it certainly doesn’t have a place in the typical workplace. It can be fun to chat with co-workers about ones romantic life, and even nice to introduce your co-workers to your significant other at a holiday party, but there’s a fine line between confiding in a work friend about your personal life and having multiple dates play a large and rotating role in your professional career. It certainly works out for Emily, but in a typical workplace, it detracts from the quality of your work and puts your romantic life and other potential spillover drama at the center of your identity, instead. 

Despite these career faux-pas, Emily in Paris is a thoroughly entertaining show. And, I would argue, aspects of Emily’s personality—from her willingness to embrace change and move to a country where she doesn’t even speak the language to her meticulous research of every client she interacts with to her ability to take career risks—are positive pieces of advice, trickled into the larger narrative. Overall, though, I hope that season 2 of Emily in Paris possesses better guidance to early career professionals — but keeps the same standard of plot twists, decadent food, and attractive men!

Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.

Image via Netflix

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