2018 Update: We still think this is a great discussion about the worst career advice you’ve ever heard, but you may also want to check out our recent post on the best career advice from coaches for lawyers and other professionals.
Here’s a fun question for today: what is the WORST career advice you’ve ever heard? I just saw an article about this at Inc. — about how “follow your passion” is really dumb advice — and I thought it might make an interesting topic for us over here. The worst advice I ever got was a version of the “follow your passion” advice, when a career coach once advised me to “Find something you love — like baseball! — and then go be a lawyer for baseball.” I kid you not, those were the exact words. Putting aside the wonky sentence structure, so many things struck me as wrong about this. Maybe I like baseball because I like drinking beer in the stands while talking to friends! Maybe I like the excitement of the game, or the statistical analysis of players’ performances! Maybe I like collecting baseball cards, or following the players over the course of their career as they move from one team to the next? Whereas someone who ends up loving sports law would, presumably, have a passion for contracts, intellectual property, and all the other things that go into the game and the business of sports.
Another thing that maybe didn’t serve me the best — back in journalism school, the university encouraged us to write to different news entities to get internships. As a hook to get these future “employers” interested, we were advised to offer to work for free, usually in the first line of the letter. I suppose it worked — I certainly got some internships out of it! — but it took me years to figure out how to write a cover letter without offering something huge in exchange, and added a lot of anxiety to informational interviews and more.
Ladies, over to you — what is the worst career advice you’ve ever received or heard?
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