TV Shows and Career Planning

reality tvWhen I first started teaching my college career planning courses over six years ago, it seemed like each class had at least a couple of students who indicated that they were inspired to pursue a particular career because of what they had seen on various television shows. The most cited television shows were Law & Order and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and that meant that these students were interested in becoming either a lawyer or police detective (Law & Order) or a crime scene investigator. These days, I don’t really see students mentioning any television shows as sources for career inspiration.

I’ve always loved watching TV. And after a bit of a break from watching so much television, I’m slowly but surely getting back into it. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of TV programs out there that would be great sources of not only career inspiration, but also great sources of career information. Most of these programs are on cable television networks and specifically on channels like the Discovery Channel, A&E, Bravo, and TLC. The shows themselves often revolve around various occupations and have documentary or reality television styles to them.

Examples of TV Shows by Industry

  • Acting: Inside the Actors Studio on Bravo
  • Business: Undercover Boss on CBS
  • Fashion: What Not to Wear on TLC; Say Yes to the Dress on TLC; Project Runway on Lifetime (Used to be on Bravo)
  • Food: Top Chef on Bravo; any Food Network show; No Reservations on Travel Channel; Bizarre Foods on Travel Channel
  • Healthcare: Intervention on A&E; The Dr. Oz Show on various broadcasting channels
  • Travel: Samantha Brown on Travel Channel


So, what do you think: Do you agree that it’s possible for a TV show to inspire someone to pursue a particular career? Can a TV show focused on a career actually be informative and educational? Which TV shows should belong on the list in this post? Please comment below.


3 comments for “TV Shows and Career Planning

  1. Heather
    June 16, 2011 at 2:32 am

    I do agree that TV shows can give false views of what the career is really like but they are also a huge boost into pursuing a career. When a lot of people watch CSI and Law and Order, they get a notion of wanting to help people as part of their career. And whether or not they start taking criminal justice classes, they’re one step closer than they were before on their path to a career. All based on a TV show.

  2. Tyler Page
    March 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I believe that TV Shows, or just video of someone doing something you are interested in can inspire a career. For Example, I have boughten a lot of videos, which essentially allow you to “hang out” and watch a professional music engineer work. I find these video’s very inspiring and they sometimes provide me the motivation to keep going. So if videos can inspire, then a show like undercover boss, showing how large companies work should do the same if large businesses and corporations interest you. That said I did used to like a show called Boston Legal ( a lawyer show) so much so that I thought about being a lawyer. However, I am not pursuing that career, so for me the show alone was not enough. Also if the show is over dramatized it can give you a false view of what the career is like and instead of being inspiring it can be disappointing to find out how the actual career is.

    • Andy
      March 29, 2011 at 10:16 am

      Everything we need to know we can learn from TV, right? You make a great point about the over-dramatization of most if not all TV shows. That’s why in connecting TV programs and career-related matters, I take it with a grain of salt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *