4 career lessons we can learn from Ugly Betty

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Betty Suarez was an aesthetically-challenged college graduate who proved everyone wrong by building a successful career at one of fashion’s most high-profile magazines. Here are four key lessons we can learn from her.

1. Don’t take no for an answer

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We were first introduced to Betty as she waited to be called for a job interview at Meade Publications. But an employee took one look at her and rudely announced: “There’s been a mistake. All the entry level positions have been filled.”

Instead of shuffling out of the building with her tail between her legs, Betty snapped to attention and  commenced to deliver a (albeit bumbling) speech about her strengths and why she’d be a great fit for the position.

“Magazines are my passion ever since I was a kid, and I can’t imagine a more amazing place to start my career than Meade publications. I know most of your magazines inside out. I try to devour as much as I can.

“And I have tons of ideas, I’m always jotting stuff down on the subway. But I’m getting ahead of myself, all I want is a chance,” she pleaded.

Ok, so it wasn’t the most eloquent sell BUT the point is she didn’t stop at the first ‘no’, even as she was being dragged out of the door.

2. Make your haters your motivators  

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Finding out that she only got the role as Daniel Meade’s assistant so he wouldn’t be tempted to sleep with her was a tough pill to swallow. Nobody cared about Betty’s potential, skills, drive or eagerness to succeed.

And it didn’t stop there. She was constantly being mocked for her appearance and the fact that she was ‘different’, her ideas were dismissed and she was picked on by her colleagues – they even destroyed her favourite bunny cuddly toy.

As far as everyone else was concerned she was just an assistant. And yes, Betty did throw a wobbly and threaten to quit after crumbling under the pressure, but eventually she decided to stick it out.

“Though my bunny and I are a little worse for wear, we’re here and we’re staying. It’s gonna take a hell of a lot more to get rid of either one of us.”

3. True talent always prevails 

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Remember when Lindsay Lohan’s character aka Betty’s high school bully, Kimmie Keegan, elbowed her way into the Mode office begging for a job? She made a terrible first impression so Betty naively decided to take her under her wing.

It didn’t take long before Kimmie, who lacked any talent whatsoever, was more popular and more successful after being promoted to Associate Editor, all thanks to Betty who she soon turned on.

After stealing all of Betty’s ideas for a high-profile ‘tico berry’ shoot with model Adriana Lima and then sabotaging it when she was fired by Wilhelmina, it was Betty’s job to clean up the mess. “Kimmie told me she did all the work,” said Adriana when she realised Betty had been double-crossed.

Thankfully Betty was able to save the shoot from complete ruin and all was right again. Moral of the story: True talent always prevails in the end. You can only fake it for so long.

4. It’s all about who you know 

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After travelling to London and meeting up with her old Mode bestie Christina (the Scottish one), who’d become a famous fashion designer, Betty was introduced to Lindsay Dunne. Not only was he a powerful magazine publisher, he was also a friend of Christina’s who told him about Betty’s work as Features Editor at Mode.

It just so happened that Lindsay was looking for a New York-based columnist for one of his fashion magazines, and he invited Betty to come in for an interview.

Yes – just like that. Now I’m not saying it’s always going to be that easy, but unfortunately career progression is often more about who you know than what you know. So don’t be afraid to get out there and network, and be nice to everyone you meet. You never know who may be able to open the door to your dream job. LLY

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