Fiction vs. Reality: The Top 5 Careers Featured in TV and Film

film careerFrom years of watching them on TV or the big screen, you probably have a pretty good idea of what a day in the life of an archaeologist or top chef is like, right? Like everything in Hollywood, the portrayals of these careers aren’t always based on fact. Check out some of the professions that get the most screen time and see how fiction stacks up against reality.

Attorney – Most attorneys in fiction are involved in criminal law – either prosecuting or defending high profile cases, usually involving murder, intrigue or conspiracy. In reality, lawyers practice in a variety of specialties such as tax law, estate planning and bankruptcy. In fact, many attorneys never go to trial and instead serve as legal counselors to individuals, businesses, non-profits and government agencies. To become an attorney typically requires a bachelor’s degree, three years of law school and passing a state bar exam.
Fictional Attorneys: Ben Matlock, “Matlock”; Elle Woods, “Legally Blonde”

Archaeologist – On the big screen, archaeologists are jetsetters who voyage to exotic locales researching ancient mysteries and legends. While archaeologists have been involved in some of history’s most exciting discoveries, such as the unearthing of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb, archaeology isn’t all glitz and glamour. Many archaeologists are employed by universities, museums and the government and hold positions as professors, curators and field researchers. When most people picture archaeologists at work, they envision “digging in the dirt” but many archaeology jobs also require a PhD and extensive hours spent researching and writing.
Fictional Archaeologists: Lara Croft, “Tomb Raider”; Indiana Jones, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

Doctor – People love hospital dramas – “House,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “ER” – are just a few examples of popular shows set in the fast-paced world of medical emergencies. TV doctors are often shown entangled in steamy romances or making risky medical decisions without their patients’ consent. In reality, most doctors would lose their licenses if they acted anything like the doctors on TV. Doctors are at significant risk for malpractice lawsuits and generally tread very carefully when making significant health decisions for their patients. While physicians do have the opportunity to improve their patients’ health on a regular basis, many doctors don’t routinely deal with life or death matters unless they work in the emergency room or an intensive care unit.
Fictional Doctors: Richard Webber, “Grey’s Anatomy”; Abby Lockhart, “ER”

Chef – With the growing popularity of the Food Network and shows like “Emeril Live” and “30 Minute Meals,” more people are getting a taste for cooking. The rise of celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Giada De Laurentiis has also created increased interest in the profession. As you probably imagined, there’s more to becoming a great chef than just a love of eating. To become a successful chef, a person must demonstrate creativity in the development of new flavors and recipes. Artistic sensibilities are essential in preparing food that not only tastes great but looks appealing as well. Respected chefs build their reputations over time by consistently creating dishes that restaurant-goers and critics alike applaud.
Fictional Chefs: Monica Geller, “Friends”; Kate Armstrong, “No Reservations”

Forensic Scientist – Do you love solving mysteries? If so, you’ve probably been intrigued by TV shows like “CSI” and “Without a Trace.” These programs feature law enforcement agents solving murders, kidnappings and other high-profile crimes using the latest technology in forensic science. The real-life career path for a forensic scientist is broad – from medical examiner to crime scene investigator and from forensic psychologist to composite artist. The daily job functions and experience required for a position in forensics depend on which field a person chooses. For example, medical examiners spend much of their time conducting autopsies and medical school is a prerequisite. Many jobs in forensics require at least a master’s degree.
Fictional Forensic Scientists: Dana Scully, “The X-Files”; Temperance “Bones” Brennan, “Bones”

While the Hollywood-version of these jobs is often more glamorous than the real-thing, it can still provide a basic introduction to many interesting professions. Just make sure you do your own research before pursuing a career based on what you’ve seen on TV or in a movie, otherwise you might be disappointed to find out not all archaeologists carry whips and that Chihuahuas aren’t generally brought into the courtroom.

Get Connected: Boost Your Career and Your Mental Health

May is mental health month, and this year’s focus is helping people become less isolated and more connected to improve their state of mind. Having people you can count on and confide in is important not only in your personal life, but in your professional life as well.

Research shows that employees who have friends at work are happier and more creative. On top of that, the studies reveal that employees with friends at work are safer, seven-times more engaged in their work and get more work done faster.  That’s why it makes sense for employers to be supportive of workplace friendships.

If you’re in a management position, you can encourage your employees to bond by allowing them some time each day for small talk and interaction. Encourage camaraderie by occasionally sponsoring fun activities such as a pizza lunch or a Friday afternoon department field trip. Not only will your team think you’re a great boss for your acts of generosity, you’ll actually be boosting productivity by encouraging workplace friendships.

Workplace buddies brighten your day by encouraging you to reach your goals, sharing a laugh and allowing you to blow off steam when things get stressful. If you don’t have a few friends at your work, make developing relationships with some co-workers a top priority. To find out how you can form friendships at work, check out the Three Secrets to Creating Allies at Work.

Do you have a good friend at work? How do you think having friendships with co-workers affects your job performance?

5 Dream Jobs and What it Takes to Land Them

What’s your dream job? Do you fantasize about being a stuntman, secret agent or maybe a marine biologist? Even if your dream seems far-fetched, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to achieve. With enough determination and a bit of luck, your fantasy job could be closer than you think.

Find out what it takes to make it in our five featured dream jobs.

1. Video Game Tester – Is your idea of a perfect day getting together with some buddies and playing the latest video game? To score the job of a video game tester, you’ll need to have more than just a passion for playing Halo or Grand Theft Auto. You’ll also need the technical abilities to evaluate games’ design and functionality. If this is the field for you, you can gain the skills you need by attending a trade school offering specialized training in video game animation and development.

2. Tour Guide – Do you love to travel and have a spirit for adventure? If so, your perfect job might be as a professional tour guide. To excel as a tour guide, you’ll need to have excellent hospitality skills as you’ll be spending the majority of your time with tourists who are paying a premium for your services. You’ll also need knowledge of the areas you’re touring and the physical stamina to lead the journey. Wondering how you can get an “in” as a tour guide? Cruise ships, museums, national parks and popular tourist attractions often employ tour guides.

3. Wine Taster – Being a wine taster isn’t about getting free drinks, although that’s often a perk of the job. Professional wine tasters must be able to do more than just enjoy a fine glass of chardonnay. They must be able to describe and evaluate the wine based on flavor, aroma, age and complimentary foods. To gain the necessary expertise to review wine, enthusiasts should pursue training offered at wine academies. It’s also important to possess writing skills in order to create thoughtful reviews of samples. 

4. Movie Critic – Do you fantasize about being the next Roger Ebert? If you’ve got a knack for providing smart commentary and persuading others to share your opinions, the job of a movie critic might be right up your alley. However, it’ll take more than just a passion for popcorn and Goobers to succeed in this field. To become a movie critic who viewers trust, you’ll need a thorough understanding of the film industry, a penchant for critical analysis and sharp writing skills. Entry-level jobs in this field are usually found at local newspapers or radio stations.

5. Personal Shopper – Are you a shopaholic? Does the thought of getting paid to spend a day at designer boutiques sound like a dream come true? Personal shoppers are often employed at upscale retail stores and help customers select items based on their unique styles, budgets and current trends. Some personal shoppers are also employed by individuals, such as celebrities. In this role, they are often referred to as stylists. To succeed in this field, it’s helpful to have a comprehensive understanding of retail and fashion.

What’s your dream job? Share your idea of a perfect job in the comments section below.

5 Secrets to Getting Promoted

Earn a PromotionGetting ahead in your career doesn’t happen by accident. If you want to get promoted you need to dedicate yourself to becoming the best employee you can be. The following five tips can help you grow professionally and land a promotion.

1. Increase your skill level. If you’ve been passed over for a promotion in the past, it could be because you’re lacking essential skills needed to advance in your industry. To remedy this, evaluate your capabilities in comparison with those who have recently been promoted. If you determine that your skills fall short in a particular area, take action. This could mean finishing a degree, getting a particular certification or working with a mentor to grow as a professional.

2. Become indispensable. When management is choosing between candidates for a promotion, they’ll review each applicant’s track record. To make sure you stand out above the competition, focus on becoming your boss’s go-to person by volunteering for tough projects and always showing eagerness to offer a helping hand. When a project demands extra time, stay late or work through your breaks will. This will show your boss that you’re dedicated to fulfilling your commitments.

3. Be in the know. Having relationships with the right people is essential to advancing your career. To get ahead, focus on developing a solid group of supporters through networking, both inside and outside of your organization. You can build your network of contacts by becoming a member of professional organizations in your field and volunteering for cross-departmental projects and committees within your company. Remember, moving up is often more about who you know rather than what you know.

4. Excel in your current role. You can show your boss that you’re worthy of greater responsibility by producing higher quality work in your current position. To do this, you’ll need to always complete projects on time, show expertise concerning all aspects of your current position and get along well with your teammates. If you consistently exceed expectations in your present role, you’ll be on the top of the list when management selects a candidate for the next big opportunity.

5. Change jobs. Leaving your current job is generally a last resort to advancing professionally. After all, if you like your job, it makes sense to stick around as long as you can. But, if your employer can’t provide adequate opportunities for professional growth and advancement, it may be time to look for a new job. But remember to always conduct yourself professionally, even as you search for greener pastures. You never know who at your current organization might be able to help your career sometime in the future.

Have you recently been promoted? What do you think caused your supervisors to select you for advancement? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tips for Saving Money While on the Job

Save Money at WorkWith gas prices soaring to record highs, the cost of merely driving to your job each day can be enough to break the budget. You go to work to earn money, not to spend the money you make on work-related expenses. The following tips can help you cut down on on-the-job expenditures.

Pack Your Lunch
If you eat out for lunch everyday, you’re spending a lot of money on food. Depending on where you eat, you’re probably burning through $25-50 a week on restaurant lunches. By packing your lunch, you can greatly reduce your meal expenses and have greater control over your diet. Inexpensive lunch time options include packing a sandwich, bagel, canned soup, salad, frozen dinner or leftovers.

Keep in mind that just because you bring your lunch doesn’t mean you should stay in the office to eat it. Getting away from your desk provides a beneficial break in your day, so pack your lunch and save money, but also get some fresh air and a change of scenery on your lunch hour.

Hitch a Ride

With gas prices well over $3 a gallon, the cost of getting to work creeps higher each day. To cut back on commuting costs, consider using public transportation, carpooling or riding your bike. Even if you have to wake up a little earlier to use one of these solutions, the savings can really add up.

Investigate your city’s public transportation system to see if there are stops near your work and home. Ask around at your workplace to locate co-workers who live near you. Chances are, they’re feeling the pinch of higher gas prices as well and may be interested in carpooling. If you live close to your employer, walking or riding your bike to work may be an economical and environmentally-friendly option to consider.

Shop for Deals on Business Apparel
Purchasing business clothing and accessories can get pretty pricey. Shopping consignment and discount stores can save you lots of money as you build and maintain your wardrobe.

While looking polished and professional on the job is valuable for your career, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In addition to shopping for in-store bargains, consider going online for deals. Websites such as eBay and Craigslist often have great deals on new or lightly worn items.

Do you have any money-saving tips for others? What’s worked for you? Let us know in the comments section.

3 Ways to Build a Better Relationship with Your Boss

Boss RelationshipsDo you struggle to connect with your boss? If so, you’re not alone. Research shows that a poor relationship with an immediate supervisor is the leading reason people leave their jobs. But, instead of calling it quits at a job you otherwise enjoy, try using three tips to build a better relationship with your boss.

Take Advantage of an Open Door Policy.
Communication problems contribute to the demise of many relationships. If you and your supervisor always seem to be speaking a different language, try increasing the amount of time you spend talking face-to-face. Remember, practice makes perfect and that includes your ability to communicate with your boss. If your boss has an open door policy, pop in every now and then to touch base. For supervisors who aren’t easily accessible, schedule times to meet together on a regular basis. Don’t wait until you have a problem to approach your boss. Instead, make developing a solid, professional relationship with your boss a top priority.

Pitch in to Lighten Your Supervisor’s Work Load.
If your boss is frequently stressed out and buried in work, chances are, they would appreciate it if you offered to help out. While you might assume your boss would ask for help if it they needed it, that’s not necessarily the case. Some people have a difficult time asking others for assistance. By paying attention to your supervisor’s workload and offering to pitch in, you’ll be recognized as a team player who can be counted on.

Be Supportive not Combative.
Even when you disagree with the decisions your boss makes, it’s important to be professional. Remember, it’s not always easy for your boss to make tough calls. You can show respect for your boss by refraining from criticism or gossip. Not only will your boss appreciate your support, but you’ll feel more positive about your relationship when you make an effort to see things from your supervisor’s point of view.

Taking responsibility for your own job satisfaction by focusing on getting along better with your supervisor can vastly improve your outlook. You may be miserable in a job, but unless you take the initiative to correct and communicate the issues, your boss could be clueless. Developing open communication, offering your assistance and being supportive will show your boss that you care about your relationship and your job.

Do you get along with your boss? How do you think you could improve your relationship? Let us know in the comments section!

Job Stress: 3 Signs You Need to Chill Out at Work

Job StressSome people are more relaxed than others. These easy-going types tend to handle stress well and keep a level-head even when things get crazy. But, maybe you’re not one of these mellow individuals. Perhaps, you tend to be a little more high strung and get worked up more easily. That’s OK – it doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does mean that you’re probably more stressed out than others. If you think you may be bringing too much tension to the workplace, check out the three signs that you’re stressing too much at work.

You have zero patience for delays.
Do you go a little nuts when a vendor puts you on hold or you have to wait behind a slow-moving co-worker at the fax machine? If you always feel like you’re in a rush and just can’t stand to wait, you’re probably lacking patience.

While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with wanting things done quickly, the problem comes when your expectations clash with reality, causing unnecessary stress for yourself and others. Accepting that you can’t control how quickly others get things done and that delays are a part of life can help reduce the amount of pressure you place on yourself to always be moving forward.

You’re wound tighter than a pocket watch.
When things don’t go the way you planned, do you get upset? Do you hate surprises and have a strict schedule for nearly every moment of every day? If so, you most likely find yourself frequently overwhelmed by life’s unpredictability.

There’s a saying, “Blessed are the flexible because they won’t break.” Having rigid expectations can lead to a lot of frustrations when plans change or go awry. Life is full of surprises, and it’s just not possible to always anticipate the future. Instead of getting upset by the unexpected, take a deep breath and try to be flexible. Learning to appreciate life’s little surprises can make your life much easier and your stress level much lower.

Your office nickname is “the ticking time bomb.”
Do you work with a bunch of people who drive you bonkers? Do you have to bite your tongue daily to keep from snapping at them? If you find yourself getting irritated with those around you on a regular basis, it’s probably not them causing the tension. Sure, people can be annoying and grating on the nerves, but that’s only if you let them.

To stop the cycle of aggravation, work on accepting your co-workers’ flaws. Remember, no one is perfect, including you. When you feel your blood start to boil, remind yourself that you need to calm down and not take things so personally. Instead, make an effort to discover your co-workers’ good traits and focus on those aspects when you’re feeling annoyed.

Next time you’re feeling all wound up, take a moment to calm down and think about what upset you. Chances are, it’s not as big of a deal as you originally thought. Striving to reduce your stress level will improve your on-the-job outlook and your relationships with others.

Let us know how you deal with work stress in the comments section below.