Career lessons from Game of Thrones characters: You know something Jon Snow!

Winter is here. Or at least it will be when the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones airs returns to HBO on April 14.

For those unfamiliar with the series (how is this even possible?) it’s an epic fantasy series with good guys who might actually be bad guys, and cold-blooded assassins who were once lovable little girls. And dragons, including an undead, zombified one.

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Now that we’ve got the other six of you caught up, did you know there are some really great career lessons to be learned from some of the main characters on Game of Thrones? Clemson University’s Career Services Associate Director of Analytics and Initiatives Kathy Horner weighed in.

Jon Snow

The bastard who would be king (went from feeling like he was never part of the family, to becoming Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, to being resurrected from the dead. All this while keeping his hair long and perfectly tousled (as per actor Kit Harrington’s contract).

Horner believes career lessons we can learn from Snow are to always “do what is right (display integrity & ethics on a resume and in interviews).” While you’re at it, “Develop and demonstrate leadership skills. Be persistent in finding positions and companies in which you believe in their values and you are able to ‘fight for what you believe in.’ Maintain loyalty but don’t be abused.”

One more tip: If someone keeps offering you criticism, accept it. Ygritte told Jon “You know nothing Jon Snow” 19 separate times. Maybe if he’d listened to her, she’d have had a happier ending.

Sansa Stark

When the show began, we didn’t know all that much about the eldest Stark daughter other than she favored lemon cakes, ornate hairstyles, and obnoxious princes. That all changed when poor Sansa became a pawn for the Lannisters, the Boltons, Littlefinger, and pretty much anyone seeking a marriage of convenience. But Sansa learned how to play the game and evolved past her naivete to become a strong, powerful woman unrecognizable to her younger self.

Horner believes we can learn from Sansa to “Display adaptability and self-awareness recognizing that issues, beliefs or stances might need to change in light of new information.” As a girl, Sansa Stark was only given glimpses into what the big picture of her life story could be. As she matured, she learned not only from what people told her but from her own experiences.

Horner says Sansa can inspire us to “remain steadfast in the face of challenges and understand the power of strategic partnerships/alliances. Hone your analytical skills to see multiple sides of things.”

If you’re having a tough time at work, don’t ally yourself with the first sympathetic person who comes your way. Pay attention to the inner workings and politics of the office and only form connections that can mutually strengthen and benefit your respective careers.

Arya Stark

It’s hard being the youngest girl in a traditional family when all you really want to do is stick your sword in things. Arya’s path is nothing like those we usually read happens to girls born into privilege. Horner believes the career inspiration from Arya includes the fact that you should “be true to yourself and step outside of the stereotypical gender roles. Forge your own path based on your interests and skills. Develop and hone skills in communication and adaptability. Challenge the glass ceiling.”

Arya was an adept goal creator and list keeper. While I’m not suggesting that you make a list of enemies you hope to kill someday, it’s not the worst idea to keep track of those that have harmed you professionally – and then avoid them. Unlike Jaime Lannister, people don’t usually change that drastically.

Daenerys Targaryen

Horner thinks one of the greatest skills displayed by the Mother of Dragons is her “resiliency and ethical leadership.” It can inspire the rest of us to “Forge collaborative relationships to reach shared goals. Listen to counsel and ideas from others to create the best product possible.”

Some other quick career takeaways from Game of Thrones:

  • Ned Stark: Don’t lose your head at work. Stay calm and asses a situation before reacting one way or another.
  • Tyrion Lannister: Don’t let others’ perceptions of you define you.
  • Cersei Lannister: Nothing. Don’t learn anything from Cersei.
  • Samwell Tarly: Being a book nerd can help you save the day.
  • Missandei: Don’t disparage a job offer if you consider it beneath you. You can work your way up.
  • Melisandre: Ageism in the workplace is real. Try to look the part whenever possible.
  • Lady Lyanna Mormont: Prove your worth and dazzle the team, even if you’re the youngest hire.
  • Bran Stark: Don’t be so intent on climbing the corporate ladder that you ignore your lurking enemies.
  • Jorah Mormont: You might have to spend a long time proving yourself again if you betray your coworkers or boss.

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