By Molly Swartz
Today’s generation has access to many forms of entertainment through music, games, and especially television. This is accessed through both regular Cable Networking, as well as streaming sites such as Netflix or Hulu Plus. Students interviewed at Glenelg High School debated the relationship between frequently watched television shows and a desired career pathway. Everyday, students watch shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Vampire Diaries, Sherlock, and Hawaii Five-0, or new shows such as Mr. Robot. These shows inspire many students to consider or pursue a specific career related to their favorite television series.
One of the most popular series, according to the interviewed students, is Grey’s Anatomy. Emma LeTellier, a Sophomore at Glenelg, expressed how Grey’s Anatomy inspired her to want to become a pediatric nurse: “I’m intrigued with Alex Karev, one of the main characters in the show. When I started watching it about a year ago, I noticed how he was interested in pediatrics and was always portrayed as a hero.” Junior Ellie Heisig, another Grey’s Anatomy fan, discussed her interest in another character. She said, “I also watch Grey’s Anatomy, however, Bailey is my favorite character. One thing she has taught me is to be assertive and aggressive in leadership positions.” Heisig conveyed how this mindset has helped her in the past, by allowing her, and the group she was leading, to be successful.
Some students focus their time on watching shows that contain activities they can already relate to. Garrett Walker spends his free time watching Sports Center. He said individuals like Stuart Scott inspired him to pursue a college degree to help him become a sports commentator because Scott “was a very well-liked person who was very successful at what he did.” Walker continued by saying how many of his friends enjoy watching Sports Center and would most likely become a sports commentator or a professional player if they had the chance.
Some students felt that the shows they watched affected them subconsciously. For instance, Gloria McComas, a Junior at Glenelg, expanded on the idea of the subconscious or indirect effect by stating, "TV shows may not inspire a certain career pathway for me, but they do open up doorways that lead me into thought about different careers. For instance, my first introduction to the Peace Corp was through the TV show House MD, which is a doctor show. The whole idea of ‘doctors without borders’ resonates with me, which is why I feel the show indirectly affected my career choice."
Research shows that many other students, outside of Glenelg, have the same opinion about the indirect effect of television shows on career pathways. According to Michael Novak, a Philosopher of Theology and Culture, “Television is a molder of the soul’s geography. It builds up incrementally a psychic structure of expectations. It does so in much the same way that school lessons slowly, over the years, tutor the unformed mind and teach it how to think.” Many studies have expatiated on the subconscious effect of television towards student behaviors and thought processes. This research confirms the belief that students are influenced by television shows, and that students will pick careers related to those displayed on television.
Based on interviews from students at Glenelg, inspiration can come from unexpected sources. Junior Rachel Scheinberg commented “I watch Vampire Diaries. One character, Sheriff Forbes, is a police officer. She successfully gets rid of all the crime in the town. It is a very inspiring role and I could see myself being a police officer because of her.” Other students, such as Mariel Frith and Bella Marcelino, agree that reality television shows they enjoy simply encourage them to become successful in life.
Television successfully influences many students by encouraging them to pursue career pathways that would typically be seen as irrational. High-profile career titles such as doctor, lawyer, and police officer now seem attainable by many students due to their popularity in television. Today’s generation could be the most successful generation to date, all thanks to the entertaining and relaxing pastime of television. Who knows, maybe staying up late and binge watching shows on Netflix is a good thing!