When I was young I knew what my parents did for a living. My father was a petroleum geologist and my mother was a teacher. I never grew up thinking that I would follow in their career footsteps. It’s not that I wasn’t proud of what they did. I think a big part of not wanting to follow in their footsteps is that television shaped my future career aspirations. There weren’t any shows about people who found oil and gas reserves and “Welcome Back, Kotter” was my only teacher-influenced television program.
The world of TV got my wheels turning as I thought about my future career path. Through television, I was introduced to more than characters and storylines. I learned about different jobs and that, for the most part, my TV role models had jobs they loved and were passionate about. Here are the top eight TV shows that had a strong effect on my career path:
- Bewitched – The world of advertising never looked better to me.
- Happy Days – Mr. Cunningham ran a hardware store and Fonzie had an auto repair shop. I could relate to those jobs since my father took me to the hardware store in his car that was constantly in the shop in the early 1980s.
- The Brady Bunch – Mike’s study (man cave) was huge, and he made architecture look exciting.
- Adam-12 and Barney Miller – Law enforcement careers were presented in two very different formats. Regardless, I wanted nothing to do with potentially getting shot.
- WKRP in Cincinnati – I learned all about the radio: sales, programming, on-air talent, weather and promotions.
- Emergency! – I got a good look at what goes on in the daily lives of the fire department and hospital work, and everyday life-and-happenings.
- The Love Boat – I discovered that I could be a captain, doctor, cruise director or bartender and never get sea sick.
That was 30 years ago. Today, children have a much more diverse group of television role models.
- Bob the Builder introduces kids to the field of construction and teaches them important lessons along the way.
- SpongeBob Squarepants is the world’s best food-service worker. His boss, Mr. Crabs is an entrepreneurial restaurateur.
- Hannah Montana is a rock star, and her father is a songwriter and her manager.
The father on Cory in the House is the personal chef to the president of the United States.
- Kim Possible’s mom is a brain surgeon and her dad is a rocket scientist.
Each episode of Higglytown Heroes educates kids on a different career.
- The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is a comedy about identical twins living at the Tipton Hotel with their single mother who is a lounge singer at the hotel.
Bewitched had the biggest influence on my future career – Darrin Stevens was in advertising. I’m a professional communicator, but my wife is definitely not a witch like Samantha.
Based on what my older daughter watches, she’ll never leave high school since she’s hooked on High School Musical.
I’m more concerned about my four-year old daughter. She has high expectations, and I hope reality sets in soon. When she grows up, she wants to be the yellow Power Ranger, and serve on the Justice League.
Did the TV you watched as a child impact your future career choice? Does it have an impact on your kids?
Darrin Stephen’s wife stayed home, looked immaculate and had dinner and a cocktail waiting when he got home. Witch or not, she certainly didn’t have the cultural influence of female characters like Mary Tyler Moore or Laverne and Shirley even. They took pride in their jobs, and showed that women can make their own way. The changing role of women in the workplace, as reflected on TV, is among the most profound influences on our society and our children. So if your daughter wants to be a yellow Power Ranger, then more power to her!
I wasnt allowed to watch much TV growing up in Jamaica but during summer I got to see Dallas. There was this one episode I watched with this man who was a psychologist and I really enjoyed what he was doing and said that is what I want to do.
I dont think it is that TV influences your career decisions I think TV brings that part of you that is innate and aids you in recognizing what interest you. If it is in you then you feel drawn to the character. I LOVE Charmed but would rather not fight demons…