3 Ways ‘Ugly Betty’ Can Answer Your Career Questions

April 10, 2011


I’m addicted to Netflix. Sure, I watch a few movies here and there via DVD delivered to my home but my Netflix account certainly gets its workout primarily through the “Watch Instantly” feature. I can never seem to get through a whole movie without falling asleep. If I have enough down time to mentally unplug for a movie, I will undoubtedly nap. So, I get my money’s worth from watching television seasons on my laptop while I work on other things – like this blog here.

I just finished the complete 4-season series of Ugly Betty. For those of you who are unaware of this inspiring-yet-cheesy TV goldmine, I’ll give you a quick (or not so quick, you know me) overview:

Betty Suarez is a young, aspiring writer who wants to create her own magazine in the future. She wants to write about people doing amazing things in the world and her dream job would be to work for a magazine like the New Yorker. A recent grad desperate for a job to help support her family in Queens, she takes a job as an assistant at Mode, a high-end fashion magazine, where her quirky and oblivious fashion sense earns her some brutal exposure to office politics. As she’s always been an “outsider” throughout life, she perseveres with naivety, determination, and pluckiness to pay her dues as an assistant – so she can one day become a magazine mogul and write about the things she feels are important. Throughout the seasons, she is tested repeatedly. Can she get ahead without the backstabbing, plotting, and scheming that’s happening all around her in the fashion world? Once promoted to editor, can she really write for a fashion magazine when she doesn’t care about fashion? Have the changes she’s gone through (becoming more fashion-conscious, enjoying her career at Mode despite the fact fashion is not what she’s passionate about, work becoming a huge priority and affecting her relationships with her family, etc) made her into someone she still believes in and that her deceased mother would still be proud of? Should she pursue the fashion magazine industry now that she’s respected just to climb the ladder? Why is venturing out toward her passion so scary? Campy and a little far-fetched in most scenes, this show makes you look deep into your own heart and ask the same questions – kind of.

The early career go-getter questions that Betty faces translate into a plethora of questions that almost any career rocketeer will face. Am I in the right place? What should I be working towards? What sacrifices can I be alright with making when I’m trying to establish my career? Everything resonated so loudly with me. I’m 27 years old now and have only recently figured out where I am supposed to be – the energy efficiency industry. But I’m not quite sure of where my place is within the industry just yet. I’m still so new to my ‘calling’ that I’m still hammering out what I’m great at and what I could get better at.. and exactly what I want my career to look like 10 years down the line. It kind of makes me panic as I love to be the girl with the master plan.

You have the same kinds of questions and fears, you say? Well, I’m glad I’m in good company. While there is no concrete path to finding answers or enlightenment in these 20-something times of confusion and endless opportunities I can share you with you how I am working toward finding some clarity.

1. Betty asked herself the hard questions as mentioned above. It’s not easy, but asking myself the hard questions has forced me to look for answers. So often, it’s easy to get discouraged by the tough questions and to just coast without answers. Because really… it’s easier to ignore the difficult inquiries than to actually dig down and find an answer that may not be so easy to stomach. Rather than getting frustrated, I got motivated to come up with answers no matter how unsettling it was. The hardest question I’ve asked myself in recent months: When I took the promotion, did I maybe put myself on a path that steered me away from what I’m great at? I’m still not sure if I’ve found the answer… but I’m getting closer.

2. Betty had some great mentors in the show. Christina, Claire, Daniel (when he’s not navigating his own murky waters), and her papi always were there to listen, provide their wisdom, and support her. I have a few of my own great mentors. My company has a corporate mentor program available to employees so I’ve participated twice and garnered myself two great role models/confidants/insight providers out of that. I also have a former boss who is always willing to give me his opinion, share his industry experience, and encourage me to go big or go home. Mentors are so important when you’re in unfamiliar waters. Asking for direction can mean all the difference in the world when you’re lost.

3. Betty had big balls. In the series finale, Wilhelmina said, “…you have big balls Betty Suarez.” I got myself a career coach. It may sound hokey… or redundant to the mentor thing… but it’s been a great experience so far. Coach Jennie is great at reading between the lines of my story and figuring out what I’m missing/overlooking in this big world of career. Because I’m such a task-oriented person, when I felt a little directionless she was able to ask some mind-blowing, paradigm-shifting questions that got me thinking outside of just my day job and what I really want from my career as a whole. She was the one that helped lead me to the decision to (someday soon) become a part-time teacher at the community college nearby. She pushed me to think big, dream big, and act big! Because I’m kind of a big deal and she recognized that when I didn’t.

What questions do you find difficult to answer?

Who are your mentors? If you don’t have any, where could you find some?

Would you ever consider getting a career coach to help you find your way?

I want to know.

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6 Comments on “3 Ways ‘Ugly Betty’ Can Answer Your Career Questions”

  1. Coach Jennie Says:

    You so ARE a big deal! Just look at how you are kicking ass! Loving your blog posts. Rock on, Chica!
    P.S. I think I better rent me some “Ugly Betty.” I’m missing the boat here. πŸ™‚


  2. Madam Energy Says:

    @Jennie, thank you!! I’m having a blast with it. And P.S. The series is awesome! Especially if you like over-the-top characters, situational humor, and cheesy undertones.


  3. isis0081 Says:

    Wow, what a deep way at looking at Ugly Betty! Your career coach was right about you. Thanks for your insight and words of wisdom. Personally, I think the, “what would you do (for a career) if your desired career doesn’t work out” question is difficult to answer as well as the “why don’t you choose….instead” (well, this ? p.o.’s me more than anything). I wouldn’t mind trying a career coach, I would just be concerned that, with the way things usually work for me, I would get a discouraging, pessimistic, dream-killing career coach.


    • Madam Energy Says:

      Isis, thanks for reading!

      Coming up with a “Plan B” is always tough… especially when we spend so much time and energy on what we’re doing in the here and now. But I do encourage you to explore those tough questions! You can always leave the answers open enough to be flexible to kind of get you started. For example: “If my desired career of X doesn’t work out, I will pursue a career that provides a challenge, opportunities for continued learning, and utilizes my ability establish strong relationships.” An open, values based statement like this can give you a little push toward what would make you happiest and to look for careers that would involve those items. Food for thought, at least. πŸ™‚

      If you’re interested in a coach but fear you might get the wrong one, PLEASE check out Coach Jennie over at http://www.coachjennie.com. If you want positive, encouraging, and dream-pushing – that’s her! Check out her website (it really is true to who she is in sessions) and shoot her an email. She’ll chat with you a bit so you can assess if personalities are a match and if you want to sign up.

      Good luck and I hope you’ll come back in the future! πŸ™‚


  4. Coach Jennie Says:

    Megan: Thanks for the generous plug! πŸ™‚
    Isis: Let’s talk! Drop by my site, fill out the contact me form, and we’ll go from there. No hard sell (not my style). If I’m not your cup-of-tea, I’d be happy to make a recommendation for another coach that might be more your style. Either way, I PROMISE you will not get a dream-stealing coach!


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