What “Breaking Bad” teaches job seekers
Breaking Bad is coming to end this Sunday. And while I would never advise job seekers to become murderers and drug dealers like the show’s characters, I believe that Breaking Bad demonstrates the importance of making connections when you’re breaking into a career.
Caution: Mild spoilers follow
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, Breaking Bad centers on Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who works two jobs to support a pregnant wife and a son with cerebral palsy. On his fiftieth birthday, he discovers that he has terminal lung cancer and only has months to live.
Walter’s brother-in-law Hank, a DEA agent, shows Walter footage of a meth lab he busted (including the enormous amount of money that was confiscated there), and Walter realizes that he could use his chemistry expertise to cook crystal meth and ensure that his family is financially secure after he dies.
But how does a respectable, law-abiding teacher break into a criminal enterprise?
As it turns out, Jesse Pinkman — a former student of Walter’s — is a meth cook. Walter teams with Jesse to make the purest, most powerful crystal meth that anyone has ever seen (or smoked or snorted). While Walter’s chemistry expertise is what makes the meth so potent, Jesse rounds out the two-man operation that’s needed to cook it.
Even after the meth is cooked, Walter and Jesse still need people to distribute and sell it. So Jesse introduces Walter to his distributor, Krazy-8, the cousin of Jesse’s former partner. That collaboration — without ruining any major plot details — ends violently, so Walter and Jesse find another distributor, Tuco Salamanca, who was cellmates with Jesse’s friend. That collaboration…also ends violently.
So Walter and Jesse begin distributing their product themselves, with Jesse’s friends acting as dealers. One of Jesse’s friends gets busted dealing to an undercover officer, so Walter and Jesse hire Saul Goodman, a sleazy lawyer who specializes in representing criminals.
In addition to being their lawyer, Saul becomes their go-to-resource for criminal connections, including drug kingpin Gus Fring — who employs Walter as his cook and pays him millions — as well as Gus’ enforcer and all-around-badass Mike Ermentraut. (Those collaborations also end violently…anybody sensing a pattern here?)
Even though Walter could make the best crystal meth on the planet, that talent wouldn’t have gotten him anywhere if he hadn’t made any connections. And it’s crucial for job-seekers (or aspiring druglords) to realize that talent alone doesn’t bring you success — you need to branch out and connect with people in your field.
And remember: don’t wait for opportunity to come knocking. You be the one who knocks.