11 Career Lessons We Can Learn From 'Gilmore Girls'

For seven seasons (and one revival), we watched Lorelai and Rory Gilmore navigate the treacherous waters of school, work, love, friends and growing up. We laughed with (and even at) them, swooned alongside them and looked to them for guidance when they faced challenges similar to ours. In particular, we watched two intelligent, strong women navigate the career world from very different perspectives. Rory was just starting to try to answer the terrifying question of what are you going to do with your life? while Lorelai was taking a step back to reevaluate her answer. Whether you're in high school, college or just joining the work force, we can all look to the Gilmore girls for career advice.

1. Be confident

Know who you are and own it—including your strengths, weaknesses, decisions and mistakes. Lorelai is unabashedly herself and takes full responsibility for her actions, and she tries to instill this sense of self-confidence in Rory from a young age. Remember that terrible double date she had to go on with Sookie and Jackson? She was insulted the practically the entire night, but she didn't let it phase her self-image. Also, Lorelai owns her past—she is not embarrassed and does not deny that she made mistakes as a teenager. Instead, she decided to make her life her own by leaving her parents and dropping out of school, eventually working her way up to management level at the Independence Inn. In the first season, it is hard for her to ask her parents for help paying for Rory's private school education, but she does it anyway, because she cares about her daughter and she knows that she has made her own life on her terms for the past 16 years. 

2. It’s okay to start over

Lorelai left her job at the Independence Inn to start her own business, and while she faced some challenges along the way, her risk paid off. If you feel like you’ve outgrown your current situation—career, academic or otherwise—don’t be afraid to change your life. Sometimes you have to start over from square one.

3. Surround yourself with people who challenge you

Rory and Paris’ friendship is a great example of the importance of having challenging peers because although they started out as each other’s competition, their relationship evolved into a strong friendship. Yes, Paris might have driven Rory crazy sometimes, but she pushed Rory to do her best. You might not have to be wildly competitive with someone to reap the benefits of a friendship, but it’s a good idea to associate with people who make you want to be a better version of yourself. 

4. Work hard now so you can reap the benefits later

Both Lorelai and Rory are examples of girl bosses who aren’t afraid of hard work. Despite financial and personal challenges they each face throughout their career paths, they stay determined and kept persisting. We can all take a page out of the Gilmore girls’ books when we’re stuck at that terrible (and unpaid) internship that might be hard at the time, but will seriously help you get where you want to go. 

5. Maintain a strong support system

From phone calls with your mom to brunch dates with your best friend to happy hour with colleagues, invest time in the relationships in your life. Rory and her mom are the definition of mother-daughter goals, and they definitely needed one another throughout the series. Rory also could rely on her strong friendships, like Lane and Paris, while Lorelai could count on Sookie. 

6. Don’t be ashamed to be smart and show it

While we might not all be Rory Gilmore-level genius, we have something to contribute, and shouldn’t be afraid to engage in conversations at work. Paris did not shy away from her ambitions, instead she pursues them in full force, often leaving chaos in her wake. If anyone tried to silence Paris or make her feel inferior, you can expect a clapback of epic proportions ("If you need some love, get a hooker" anyone?) While Paris is sometimes the enemy character in the show, you have to admire her strength, persistence and confidence. While she might not care how people respond to her straightforwardness, she does value herself. Your input is valuable and your perspective is unique, why stifle it with self-doubt? 

7. Don’t let distractions hold you back

In the very first episode of Gilmore Girls, Rory meets a cute boy (Dean) and second-guesses her decision to transfer from her local high school to the fancy private school Chilton. But her mother quickly reminds her what is truly important, because boys come and go, but some opportunities are once in a lifetime. Don’t get sidetracked by something that seems super important now if you know five years (or even five days) from now it won’t matter. 

8. Be stubborn about your goals

Don’t let self-doubt or naysayers prevent you for going for what you want. But a goal without a plan is just a dream. Take the time to reflect on where you want to go and how you will get there. 

9. But also be a little flexible

Your five-year plan might hit a major roadblock—and that’s okay! Rory had her heart set on a fellowship at The New York Times and turned down other jobs in hopes of working at her dream job. However, when she did not get the position, she had to reassess her next move. Nothing always goes exactly according to plan, so be prepared to reevaluate your career strategy at every turn.

10. Failure can only stop you if you let it

Rory hit a rough patch in college and needed some time to regroup. But she returned to Yale to become editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News and even when she graduated from college without a set post-grad plan, she embraced her freedom. She persisted, kept applying to jobs and eventually got an amazing opportunity as a journalist for a presidential campaign. 

11. Coffee can get you far 

Sometimes all you need is a strong cup of coffee to help you power through.

In the end, the main lesson we can take away from watching the career ups and downs the Gilmores navigated through the years is that everything might not turn out exactly the way you want, but that's okay. You have to dedicate yourself to being the best you can be at whatever you're doing at the moment. And if you've been working so hard lately and you're in desperate need of a break, maybe a few episodes of Gilmore Girls are the exact inspiration you need to get reenergized (consider this the doctor's order).