Job and Career Advice… from Dirty Harry

I took some time this weekend to get caught up on my non-work related reading, just to clear my head. In a matter of moments, however, I got sucked right back in by no one other than “Dirty Harry” himself, Clint Eastwood.

In an old magazine article, here’s what Eastwood said about getting a job in his teens… some six or seven decades ago:

“When I was a kid, I remember going out and looking for jobs, and I would ask my father how I could figure out how much money I would make. He told me not to worry about that, but to tell them what I could do for them and that I wanted to learn everything about their business and become a great asset to the company.”

Mr. Eastwood went on to use this advice throughout his adult life. Here’s his approach when he asked to direct his first film:

“I went to the head of Universal Studios and said that I’d like to direct this film as well as act in it. Because it was a small budget, he said, ‘Sure, go ahead, but we’re not going to pay you to direct.’ I told him that was fine; I should be paying him for the experience, that he shouldn’t pay me until he knows I can do something…”

Dirty Harry added:

“It’s an old-fashioned, Mark Twain approach: Show them what you can do and the rest will take care of itself. Not many live by those words today.”

What was funny to me, as I read this piece, was that many of the most successful young careerists DO live by this advice today. In addition, there are many of us who dispense this advice often to entrepreneurial-minded college students, recent graduates and those in career transition hungry to find work. We, up until now, considered this “contemporary” advice perfect for today’s economy.

The fact is, however, that this is actually a return to old-fashioned counsel dispensed by fathers to their sons and presumably mothers to their daughters 60+ years ago.

From an unlikely source, a lesson learned.

For the rest of us not yet following this advice, we just have to ask ourselves one question… “Do I feel lucky?”

Well, do ya’?



About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, CEO and Founder of YouTern Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter.




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