The career rut. It happens to the best of us. Maybe you’ve been in a comfortable niche for a while, but you finally realized your comfort is more like boredom. Or maybe your skills have outgrown your job, and you’re looking for something more challenging. Or maybe you’re one of the many young adults who are hitting their rut exceptionally early in life; a member of the generation of over-educated, under-employed university grads who’s realizing that maybe your fine arts degree wasn’t the most results-oriented use of money (ahem, welcome to the club).
IN A CAREER RUT? GET INSPIRED BY TELEVISION
Whatever the reason, a career rut can be the opposite of fun, and deciding where to head next can be daunting. This is when you need to seek guidance you can trust. No, I’m not talking about your parents. I’m not talking about your best friends or your colleagues or that pricey and respected career adviser. I’m talking about society’s one true source of accurate information and sage advice, the only career adviser you’ll ever need: Television.
So if you’re having a little trouble deciding where to head next with your career, why not choose from a list that comes highly recommended by TV’s favourite professionals?
Forensic Analyst (As seen on CSI, Bones, Dexter)
Wanna catch criminals? Have kind of a thing for bugs? Need a cover for your murderous extracurriculars? Then forensics might be your field. TV tells us that working in forensics offers a nice balance between nerdiness and bad-assery; you get to toss around words like “gas chromatograph mass spectrometer” and carry a gun and a badge. You get to drive big cars around, carry those shiny metal kits, and make people uncomfortable by taking cheek swabs. Oh yeah, and you’re helping solve crimes and catch criminals. Not too shabby for a day’s work. Just watch out for stalkers, saboteurs, and Paul Millander.
Doctor (As seen on Scrubs, House, Grey’s Anatomy)
Keeping with the science theme, how about medicine? Doctors help people and save lives. They get to wear those fetching white coats. They also get to use some pretty awesome words, like “coronary angiogram” and “glyceryl trinitrate”. But judging by the sage wisdom of TV, the real appeal of medicine is the patients – each one provides a magical dose of life lessons and soul-searching, plus a neat little puzzle to solve. As a new doctor, you’ll probably have a hilariously crotchety mentor and spend a good deal of time hiding in closets during your on-call shift, but the camaraderie between you and your fellow docs will be second to none.
Lawyer (As seen on Law and Order, Damages, The Good Wife)
Oh, for the chance to make one of those passionate, eloquent, closing remark speeches! To do the dramatic walk-and-talk with the opposing council regarding monetary settlement! To hang out in swanky judge’s quarters! Yes, TV would have us believe that lawyers have all the fun. Plus, they wear snazzy suits and spend a lot of time in rooms with awesome wood panelling. Just beware – if you are a woman and you choose the path of The Bar, you will probably have to wear heels all the time and sport really boring hairstyles and “conservative” lip colors.
Government Employee (As seen on Parks and Recreation, Homeland, Spin City)
TV tells us that working for the government could go one of two ways – your days will either be filled with high stakes or small potatoes, massive geopolitical scandals or local Harvest Festivals. Either way – whether you’re advising the president in war-time or just trying to build a new park – you’ll probably never be bored. Just beware that no matter what branch of government you’re in, it’s not always nice to see how the sausage is made. Oh, and cross your fingers that wherever you are, your office will have its own Jerry.
Elementary School Teacher (As seen on New Girl, Mr. D, Boy Meets World)
If you don’t like kids, then elementary school teaching is probably not for you, but it can be very rewarding. TV shows us that teachers often have to be villains and squash childish antics, but they get to have some fun too. They get to play with glitter and sing songs about bullying. They get to go on field trips and play basketball and attend science fairs. And maybe, just maybe, they can even end up being positive role models for the kids in their classrooms.
Housekeeper to the Wealthy (As seen on Devious Maids, Gossip Girl, Will and Grace)
You may think that cleaning rich people’s houses is not a desirable career, but TV will convince you otherwise with one word: DRAMA. Vacuuming someone else’s carpet isn’t fun, but being privy to their private business and deepest secrets can be. Your full-time job is basically to eavesdrop and rifle through people’s pants pockets and underwear drawers. Your employers may expect you to scrub their toilet, but they may also rely on you to be their best friend and closest confidant. And hey, if some on-screen portrayals of maids are to be believed, you probably won’t have to do anything more strenuous than dust nick-knacks and stacks of suspicious home movies.
Nebulous, Made-Up Job Title (As seen on Scandal, Sex and the City, Lie to Me)
Any young professional can tell you that it’s getting harder and harder to find jobs in existing industries. With an ever-increasing pool of educated candidates, the competition for every job posting can be intense and discouraging. So why not make up your own job? Take whatever you’re good at, and turn it into something legit. Have a lot of romantic relationships and plenty of sassy opinions thereabout? Become a “sex and relationship columnist” and write about your dates for a local newspaper. Are you good at lying, scheming, manipulating, and making things disappear? Become a “strategist” and solve important people’s problems. Can you spot a lie in the twitch of an eyebrow? Become a “deception expert” and help the cops catch all those nasty people with twitchy eyebrows. Make your talents work for you and define your own entrepreneurial role in the world.
So, did that help you decide on your next career move? Do you ever look to TV for guidance? Have you ever made a career move based on questionable (though extremely entertaining) advice?
Hannah McIlveen is a freelance graphic designer and TV-obsessed writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up riding horses and reading Roald Dahl books, got an art degree, and then spent the next several years moving around the country and watching television. Her greatest goals in life are to write good stuff, produce a web series, build a house with her husband, and have six cats at once. Hannah has contributed to BitchMagazine.org and is a staff blogger for the soon-to-launch TeenSized.com. She also writes her own daily blog, Click Watch Write. Hannah can be accosted on Twitter @ClickWatchWrite.