Career Advice From Leslie Knope

Leslie Knope cover photo career advice

Have you started down one career path only to realize it wasn’t for you? Many folks are jumping from one industry to another or switching up their skills for a new job. And sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches and take a chance on an opportunity you had never considered.

Consider following a career role model for inspiration, such as one of the many fictional people also struggling with finding that ideal career. Take our “Who is your fictional career role model quiz?” Then follow along with our series highlighting each of the role models’ career paths and advice they might give.

The second post in our Career Advice series is focused on fan favorite Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation. Go back to our post on Dev Shah from Master of None to start from the beginning! If you took the quiz and found out your role model is Leslie Knope, you might be really ambitious, but you also have a strong need to help others. Leslie is super-enthusiastic about everything, especially binders, and hyper-organized. Even though she is a workaholic (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), she knows what matters most – friends and family.

Are you passionate about your work, but not sure you’re on the right path? Are you trying to figure out a work-life balance and finding yourself burning the candle on both ends? Leslie is a great example for folks who might be in a public service or non-profit job that asks a lot and is incredibly fulfilling. Maybe you’re looking to “have it all.” Leslie is a great example of someone who goes after everything she wants, takes a few hits, and relies on her friends and family for help. She doesn’t “have it all,” but she knows that’s not the goal.

What can we learn from Leslie’s career?

You can be a good employee, pursue your goals, and not be a workaholic

Leslie is a bit of a superhuman… which means, you shouldn’t use her work ethic as a goal. There are days when I personally can’t figure out how I got it all done, then make a mental note that I need to give myself a big break. There’s only so long you can do everything and do it well. Leslie learns this lesson while working for the Parks & Rec department and running for City Council. As Ron Swanson says to her “don’t half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.” Figure out a way to delegate what you can (my dream is to one day afford a laundry service) and make time for self-care.

Ron Swanson Quote - Never Half-Ass Two Things Whole-Ass One Thing

Leslie Knope saying "imma go fall asleep on the bench"Be flexible

In many ways, Leslie is completely inflexible – she likes things done the way she wants them to be done. She also is resistant to changing her career path after being voted out of office. Rather than spin out like Leslie does, be ready for change and open to shifting jobs as opportunities come up. If Leslie hadn’t rallied herself, she might not have landed a great job in the National Parks Service.

Negotiate for what you want

Negotiation is such a touchy topic because on the one hand, we shouldn’t necessarily reward those who negotiate better over those who are great at their jobs, but don’t have great negotiation skills. However, negotiation is a major way to leverage your great work for getting what you want. At the end of the sixth season, Leslie accepts a job with the National Parks Service, but also negotiates to move her office back to Pawnee so she doesn’t have to leave her friends.

Build a support network

If Parks and Rec had a moral to its story, it would be “No one achieves anything alone.” Leslie says this in an episode when her work on a major fundraiser for her most important project is interrupted and she has to attend an emergency meeting. While she is sequestered in this meeting, her friends plan and set-up the entire fundraiser and by the time she arrives everything is done. This is a great example of how building a personal support network can make your life easier and more fulfilled.

full cast of Parks and Recreation

Leslie is a great role model for anyone who wants to have a meaningful career and life. Check out Parks and Rec for more inspiration!

Author: Carolyn Noe

Carolyn is the Founder & Executive Director of Super Heroines, Etc. She is a recent transplant to Cincinnati and lives with her husband and her dog. She regularly nerds out about Parks & Rec, Firefly, and Pride & Prejudice.

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