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Build Your Career Get Ahead

6 Important Career Lessons from 'Friends'

6 Important Career Lessons from 'Friends'
Credit: NBC/Netflix

It's been more than a decade since Rachel got off the plane and she and the rest of the group lived happily ever after. But thanks to constant cable reruns and its introduction to Netflix earlier this year, "Friends" is still very much one of the most popular television shows out there.

The beloved series that lasted 10 years and 10 seasons focused on a group of six best friends — Chandler, Monica, Joey, Rachel, Ross and Phoebe — living life in New York City. But while many "Friends" fans tend to focus on the characters' romantic endeavors and their more humorous storylines, a lot of the show actually revolved around the characters' careers. And a lot of it can help you be more successful in your own career, too.

Here are six important career lessons you can learn from everyone's favorite friends.

Chandler spent almost the entire series doing a job that he hated and sticking with it because simply because he was successful and made a decent salary. He worked as an IT procurement manager who specialized in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration — a position none of his friends could remember or understand, to the point where it was a running joke throughout the show. It wasn't until Season 9 that Chandler did the unthinkable — he up and quit his job.

At that point, Monica and Chandler had gotten married and Chandler's company had relocated him to Tulsa, Oklahoma. When Christmas came around and Chandler was forced to work and spend the holiday away from his wife and friends, it was the last straw. Chandler quit and returned to New York, ready to turn over a new leaf, opting to start his career all over again in a new field. This is never an easy thing to do, but Chandler took it in stride.

After spending a short while unemployed and trying to figure out what it was he wanted to do with his life, Chandler decided advertising was the field for him. So later in Season 9 he secured an internship at an advertising company, and got past the awkwardness of working with college students as a man in his 30s. Chandler stood out among his peers due to his attitude and his talents and in the end, earned himself a job as a junior copywriter at the company, all proving that he made the right choice.

Monica had a lot of great career moments throughout the show, but her ultimate goal was to become a chef. She worked as a waitress at a '50s themed diner, a food critic, started a catering business with Phoebe, and eventually landed her dream job as head chef at Alessandro's (and eventually Javu, another trendy Manhattan restaurant) after a few setbacks. What's most impressive about Monica, however, isn't that she scored her dream job — it's how she got there. Through it all, Monica's biggest assets were her honesty and her integrity.

While she was working at the diner in Season 3, Monica met Pete Becker, a millionaire with whom she had a brief romantic relationship. During this time, Becker purchased a restaurant and offered the head chef position to Monica, but she ultimately refused it because she didn't believe it was right to accept the job under the circumstances. Later on in Season 4, Monica writes an honest but scathing review of a local restaurant, Alessandro's, offending the owner. However, when she cooked for the owner to show what she would have done differently, she was offered the head chef position at the restaurant, earning the job entirely on her own skills and ideas.

Of course, when she started the job, her employees hated her because of what she had written. She did everything in her power to get them to respect her, and in the end, it worked out. Eventually, Monica left her job after Chandler got the news he was being relocated, but stayed in New York when she was offered the head chef position at Javu. [13 Fictional Companies We Wish Were Real ]

Monica knew from the beginning that it was important to stay true to what she believed was right and to get by on her abilities and experiences. While it's OK to network and use your connections to find new opportunities, at the end of the day, you need to have the skills and the passion to earn your dream job on your own.

On the show, Ross, a paleontologist with a Ph.D., worked at the New York Museum of Prehistoric History. In Season 6, Ross starts working as a professor at New York University — and he wasn't all that good at his job, either. Ross was routinely late or absent from class because he couldn't manage his time properly, gave boring lectures, and even let some of his students trick him into giving them higher grades.

The one thing Ross was actually great at? Overstepping his boundaries on the job and mixing his personal life with his work life — especially when it came to his romantic entanglements. Some of Ross' most notable career mistakes include: getting caught sleeping with Rachel at the museum in Season 2, yelling at his co-workers and boss because his sandwich went missing from the office refrigerator in Season 5, dating a co-worker (fellow paleontology professor Charlie Wheeler) in Season 10, and even worse, dating a student in Season 6. These actions all show a lack of respect for his job and a major lack of responsibility, too.

If you want to be successful in your career, learn from Ross's poor choices. Keep your job and your love life as separate as possible — and don't scream at your boss over a sandwich.

Rachel's career trajectory throughout the show was truly inspiring. She started out in Season 1 as a spoiled rich young woman who had never worked a day in her life, but after being cut off from by her parents after leaving her fiancé at the altar, Rachel had to make her own way in the world. She got a job at Central Perk, the coffee shop where her friends spent most of their time together, and she stuck it out for three seasons even though she hated her job and wasn't particularly good at it.

In Season 3, Rachel quit her job at Central Perk to pursue a career in the fashion industry, and was hired shortly thereafter by Fortunata Fashions. Later in Season 3, Rachel became a buyer and personal shopper at Bloomingdale's, and eventually became an executive at Ralph Lauren in Season 5. Her dedication to her career was impressive — even when she left for maternity leave after having her daughter, Emma, and another employee was brought on to replace her, she fought to keep her position at Ralph Lauren.

In Season 10, Rachel was offered an amazing job at Louis Vuitton, but it meant moving to Paris and taking Emma with her, leaving Ross behind. Initially, she accepted, but as every "Friends" fan remembers, in the tear-jerking series finale, Rachel got off the plane.  Rachel knew that she still had a job waiting for her at Ralph Lauren, and more important, she realized that she needed to put her happiness and her family first.

That doesn't mean Rachel wasn't guilty of any career mistakes — she, like Ross, dated a co-worker (her assistant, Tag), but considering where she came from and how far she got in her career, there's still a lot to look up to.

Joey always knew he wanted to be an actor, but he was so desperate to become an actor that he tried to play just about every role he could even if it wasn't the right fit for him. He starred in an awful musical about Sigmund Freud along with a few other bad stage roles, played Al Pacino's "butt double" for a movie scene (though he ultimately lost that role), starred in an embarrassing infomercial about milk cartons as well as a Japanese commercial for men's lipstick, modeled for a venereal disease prevention campaign for a clinic, and more. He even tried to learn French to land a part after lying about his skills on his résumé (another thing you should never do!) though he failed miserably and embarrassed himself. In his struggle to make it as an actor, Joey tried too many different things and had a tough time finding his niche.

Eventually, in Season 2, he landed the part of Dr. Drake Ramoray on the popular soap opera "Days of Our Lives," but he lost the part shortly thereafter when he gave a magazine interview that angered the writers, who wrote him off the show in retaliation. But it was this role that fit him best, and eventually Joey was able to get his part back at the soap opera in Season 7 after a few other failed roles along the way, most notably a TV series about a detective and robot pair called "Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E." Joey managed to keep this job for the rest of the series, landing a few other parts here and there on the side.

While it's important to try different things in the span of your career, take it from Joey — take the time to really learn what you're good at and what makes you happy, pursue it, and don't let it go.

Phoebe didn't have very much going on careerwise in the show, but that doesn't mean there isn't still a lesson to be learned. Primarily, Phoebe worked as a masseuse at a few different spas throughout the series — one of which she was fired from in Season 4 for having an inappropriate relationship with a client. (Note: Don't make the same mistake!) Phoebe also worked at another upscale spa that went against some of her more liberal personal beliefs, but the job paid well and had good benefits.

At the end of the day, however, Phoebe's career wasn't the most important thing in her life. Though she was mostly unsuccessful as a singer-songwriter (despite almost being discovered and making a music video for her song "Smelly Cat" in Season 2), generally only performing at Central Perk and on street corners, Phoebe was dedicated to her music. And the most important things in her life were her friends, her brother (for whom she carried triplets when he and his wife couldn't conceive) and her serious romantic partners, and that's OK. Despite some insecurities about not making as much money as the rest of her friends — insecurities that she shared with Joey, who also struggled financially — she still proved that not everything has to revolve around a career.

Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.