What can we learn about our careers from the Netflix series ‘One Day’?

Emma and Dexter from the Netflix series, One Day

If you’ve not heard about Netflix’s latest hit One Day, where have you been!? Based on the novel of the same name by David Nichols, the insanely bingeable series follows the 20-year relationship between Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew as they navigate adult life, following their “meet-cute” at Edinburgh’s graduation ball.

Apart from screaming at the telly, wondering why they won’t just get together already(!), the series got me thinking a lot about the pair’s career journeys. As well as the glaringly obvious one (don’t drink vodka before or during work!) here are the key lessons I gleaned from the show…


You don’t need to have it all figured out when you start your career

Dexter and Emma meet for the first time at graduation ball in their final days at Edinburgh University. They go back to Emma’s flat at the end of the evening and, much to Dexter’s dismay, spend the night talking about their plans for the future. Emma has it all mapped out and can’t believe that Dexter hasn’t really thought about what he wants to do past his imminent travelling plans.

As it turns out though, after his travels, we see Dexter land in a highly sought after TV presenting career, almost by accident. His fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants nature allows him to be open to opportunities and to take risks without worrying about the consequences.

On the other hand, despite her meticulous plans, Emma doesn’t have the start to her career that she’d hoped for. She bounces from job to job, and we’re entertained by each new career low (my personal favourite being the choreography in the Tex Mex restaurant!). In the end though, she finds her way and fulfils her life’s dream of becoming a writer.

I think the moral of the story is that there’s nothing wrong with leaving university or starting your career with no idea what you want to do next. You also must be open to the possibility that even if you have it all mapped out, life may not take you where you expect. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying out different options before finding the career path for you.


You don’t have to go to university to have a successful career

Aah, the age-old debate… to Uni or not to Uni…

As a recruitment agency, we’re seeing more and more young people forego university to get straight into the world of work – most likely due to costly tuition fees.

Both Dexter and Emma go to university but arguably neither of them ends up in a career that requires the degree they have. Emma studies English and History and becomes a teacher, then a writer – this is certainly helped by her degree, but it isn’t essential. Dexter studies Anthropology and goes into TV presenting before owning and running a café – I think this one speaks for itself!

I truly believe the experience of university is second to none. In most cases, you move to a brand-new city and live with complete strangers. You’re pushed to grow up and step outside of your comfort zone. I think you learn valuable life lessons (such as how to force yourself up for a 9AM lecture after you’ve been out ‘til the early hours).

However, I studied Politics and I’m a recruiter. Essentially, I’ve paid £27,000 in tuition fees to be in a position many will be in, without paying a penny (gulp!).

I wouldn’t change my time and I’d recommend it to anybody, but much like Emma and Dexter’s experience, I don’t think going to university is a prerequisite for having a successful career.


It’s never too late to change career paths

Over the years we follow them, Emma and Dexter’s careers take many different twists and turns. Dexter seems to land in TV presenting almost by accident. This is juxtaposed with Emma seemingly flailing from job to job. Starting out in an am-dram group, then working in a Tex Mex restaurant before becoming a teacher.

Dexter’s path is sadly a little dark. He finds fame overnight but seems to struggle with it and makes some bad decisions that ultimately end his career. He then flounders for a while, struggling to find his next step. In the end though, he opens his own café and ultimately finds success in a completely different way than anybody would have guessed. From Dexter I think we learn a lot of what not to do(!) But I think the key take away is that it may feel as though the world has ended if your career doesn’t pan out the way you’d hoped but it’s your life and you have as many chances as you need, to get it right.

Emma’s dream had always been to become a writer, but she spends a significant part of the series not being able to get started. As the viewer, we wonder whether she ever will. When she finally gives herself the push she needs, she writes a series of books and is dubbed “the most exciting new voice since Sue Townsend”. The key thing to take from this is that its never too late to find your passion and get started or to change careers. There are many famous examples of people who found success later in life, my personal favourite is Colonel Sanders who started KFC when he was 62!



Emma and Dexter’s journey gives us an interesting insight into the ins and outs of life during early-to-mid adulthood. They take different paths and each of them experiences career highs and lows during the series.

I think there’s a lot we can take from their experiences. Namely, Uni isn’t essential to getting a job, but it’s a great experience nonetheless; you absolutely don’t need to have everything figured out when you first start your journey into the working world; and its never too late to change career paths.

If you need any help with your career journey/ job hunt, get in touch with us on 01625 509182, we’re here to help!