Career Lessons from TV

Because TV Doesn't Really Rot Your Brain

Posts Tagged ‘Michael Westen

“Burn Notice” – You Can Work For The CIA Too

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Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen in "Burn Notice"

Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen in "Burn Notice"

Yes, “Burn Notice” is still on mid-season break, but a spy organization who hasn’t taken a break from hiring is the CIA. They’re not just hiring Michael Westens, but for everyday jobs as well.

The Agency Is Looking for You

Michael Westen is more than qualified to work as a spy for the CIA. Military training, strong sense of morals, and an ability to lie at near pathological levels. While the Central Intelligence Agency is always looking for people like Michael Westen, there are other positions the agency is also trying to fill that may be suited for people like you and me. Eve Tahmincioglu writes about the agency’s hiring increase and about life working as  an undercover and non-undercover employee of the CIA in “Top Secret Jobs at the CIA“. If you don’t have a 2 black belts in martial arts, that’s OK. Tahmincioglu writes the agency is looking for college students, former wall street workers and people with language skills to fill a number of administrative and analyst positions.

Not Easy Getting In Or Staying In

Tahmincioglu also writes that it’s a highly competitive hiring process with extensive screening and background checks. Should you make the cut, your family life may suffer depending whether or not you position is undercover. You’re also still subject to background and security checks after you’ve been hired.

Believe in What You’re Doing

From my experience working in government, I think the difference between a rewarding government career and a hellish one with little pay and a lot of bureaucracy is just how much you believe in what you’re doing. If you’re truly committed to serving the country, it really makes it all worth it.

Other Government Opportunities

If the CIA is not your thing, you can find out what other government agencies are hiring on

See yourself in the CIA? Let me know by posting here.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

September 11, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Lesson from “Burn Notice”- Ask A Spy (For Career Tips)

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Yeah, it’s NOT ACTUALLY from an episode, or from any season in general, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this great bit of social media content that not only provides tips on how to spot a liar but also gives advice on how to navigate the workplace. All you have to do is ask.
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Gotta hand it to the USA Network. They really know how to do social media. Given their business gives them an advantage on what to offer, their “Burn Notice” website is still one the best social media offerings out there. Yes, I’m biased but judge for yourself. “Ask A Spy” is a collection of short video tips from Michael Westen. While you’ll get tips on how to survive a bar brawl and what to do when your car brakes are cut, you’ll also get tips for the workplace such as how to get promoted and what to do if a co-worker is bullying you. You can submit your questions for Michael Westen to answer on USA’s message board.

Even if you’re not a fan of the show, the videos give advice from a unique perspective- a spy’s perspective. Sounds fanboy cheezy, but if you think about it , spies are really good at reading people, reading situations, and getting out of tight spots using a bit of psychology, a silver tongue, and a good poker face. Skills applicable anywhere, especially the workplace. It’s my favorite aspect of the show. Forces me to remember that no what tight spot you’re in, you can always get out of it if you know who you’re dealing with, what’s at play in the situation and what you have to work with.

Got a good example of media content from your favorite TV show? Post it here.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

July 29, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Lesson from “Burn Notice”- Recovering From a “Burn”

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Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen on "Burn Notice"

Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen on "Burn Notice"

One of my favorite shows (when it’s on) is “Burn Notice” (Thursdays @ 9pm on USA). For the uninitiated, it’s about a former spy named Michael Westen (played by Jeffrey Donovan) who was blacklisted or “burned” by the CIA and dumped in Miami with nothing. While trying to figure out who got him burned and finding his way back into the CIA, he’s asked to use his espionage skills against criminal elements victimizing the innocent. On the surface, it’s about a cold, calculating, and dangerous individual that finds his humanity with his friends and family who back him up in his exploits, but it’s also about a story many of us have lived through. For reasons justified or not, we were dismissed from the jobs we loved and left alone to figure out our next move. So if you’ve been fired, sacked, laid off, or burned, what’s your next move?

Look Back Before Figuring Out What’s Next

As of the episode entitled “Signals and Codes”, Michael is hell-bent on getting his old job back, but it’s obvious to his friends, family, and even the fans that he’s already made a good life with his friends helping the innocent, and getting his old job back would be toxic to both him and the CIA. While most are smart enough not try and get their old jobs back (though numerous are still prone to pining for their exes), many don’t take the time to take a step back, go over what’s happened, and determine whether a change in career path is warranted. That’s what Anthony Balderrama from suggests in his article “Make Getting Fired Work for You.”

In many cases, a change in career path is exactly what’s needed to develop new skills, appreciate new aspects of a career and recognize countless other opportunities that would’ve gone unseen if plodding along the same path. Not saying changing direction is always the case. It depends on you. If you can honestly say that doing the same thing for another company or for yourself is what’s best, go for it. Unfortunately that’s not the case for Michael. While he has aced the looking back part by figuring out who burned him at the end of last season, there’s a lot he still doesn’t know about them.  He doesn’t look forward to what opportunities he has in his current situation either. He has a chance to rekindle a relationship with his ex-girlfriend Fiona (played by Gabrielle Anwar), work with his best friend Sam Axe (played by Bruce Campbell) helping those in need and to re-connect with his estranged family. He also has a chance to practice his espionage skills without having to compromise his morals or ethics- a rare benefit indeed. So if you’re “burned”, take that step back. Figure out what happened, what needs to change. Make plans and go forward.

As For Me…

While I’ve taken a hard look at all the jobs I’ve held, taken stock in all that’s happened, made moves I thought were in the best interests of a career, I’m still waiting for the payoff. Yes, it can take some time, but in many cases, it eventually yields more than what was originally imagined. Vanessa Williams comes first to mind, but there are many other examples, famous or not, that have made the best of an unfortunate situation. Sure, fear and desperation can derail you, but it’s just a matter of keeping your chin up, your friends close, and remembering there’s still a lot of life left to live out there.

So do you have a career lesson from TV?  How did you, or how are you handling your job search or career? I’m happy to hear from you. Just a few ground rules- no personal attacks, name-calling, or otherwise ruining a perfectly good discussion. I’ll put up a new post in a few days. Talk to you soon.

Written by Reginald Bautista

July 11, 2009 at 11:21 pm