Career Lessons You Missed from Fast Times at Ridgemont High

“Well, naturally something happens. I mean, you put the vibe out to 30 million chicks, something is gonna happen.” – Mark Ratner, Fast Times at Ridgemont High

It brought us inside the worlds of high school, the mall food court, and taking a date to a grown up restaurant. It’s the movie that introduced us to Judge Reinhold, Nicholas Cage, Eric Stoltz, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Penn, Forest Whitaker…and of course, Phoebe Cates.  It’s a movie full of lessons about love, relationships, and the roller coaster world of teenage life…

…but it also has a lot to teach you about your career if you pay attention.  So let’s take a look at career lessons you missed from Fast Times at Ridgemont High…


That poor cheerleader.

All she wanted to do was rally some school spirit and get everyone pumped up for the big game…but nobody cared.  But she had the courage to stand up for herself and call them out on it.  Your work won’t always be appreciated, that’s just the way life goes sometimes.


Ah, Brad…you idiot.

Decent job, great relationship with someone who’s nuts about you, and when does it all start going downhill?  When he starts thinking about the hypothetical. About how many girls he could have if he were only single. How great life would be if he just didn’t have that darned entanglement of a great relationship hanging like a noose around his neck. It’s okay to take chances, but always make sure you’re evaluating real, solid options and not just hypothetical “maybe” or “could be”. Always remember that there are likely people out there who have a lot worse than you do, and take a moment now and then to just step back and appreciate what you have. Don’t quit your job until the papers have been signed on the next one, no matter how great a picture the recruiter paints.


Nobody’s perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Sometimes, bad things just happen.

When it’s on you, it’s on you.  Don’t run from it, don’t hide from it, don’t refuse to answer the phone just because there’s an uncomfortable conversation waiting on the other end of the line.

It’s easy to be the awesome person when things are going well. Your true character is what people see when things are rough…and that’s what they remember.


ridge8It’s pretty simple – if you know your boss would be over the top pissed off about it if they found out what you were doing, then odds are pretty good you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

Running that side gig on company time probably isn’t the best idea.  Spending all day playing games on your phone is likely a better idea for the weekend.  An entire tin of altoids trying to cover up the beer probably isn’t fooling anyone.


They’re coworkers, vendors, suppliers and peers.

That doesn’t mean that they’re your best friends. Don’t expect them to go the extra mile for you.  It’s best to always keep your guard up and not over-share.  Understand the dynamic of your working relationship, keep it professional, and you will find things much, much easier in the long run.


Brad was employee of the month a number of times. He was the man. King of the castle. The one that all of the other employees looked up to. The guy that the boss relied on the most. At the absolute peak of his job.

And then it all came crashing down in the matter of minutes.  He lost it and snapped at a customer…never a good idea, regardless of how solid you think you are. You’re putting yourself in a horrible position, and you’re putting your boss in an even worse position…and, well, we all know what happens then.


Damone might have been a bit of a scumbag, but he still has some good advice for your career.

Job hunting? You’d don’t just want a job…you want to work for this company that you’re talking to because of all the great things you’ve heard.

At an event? Stop looking at your phone or around the head of the person you’re speaking with…because where you are is the most important thing going on.

And when you have that, my friend…then…you have the attitude.


That’s all for this time.  Go read something else