How Much Can You Learn About a Career From Reality Shows?

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Reality Tv show TLC

By Brittuntersalmberger (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

If you watch enough television, you can find a show that promises to reveal the lifestyles that come with all different kinds of jobs. From fishing to restoring vintage cars, being a chef, to being a bounty hunter, it seems like there is almost no career deemed mundane enough not to have its own reality show.

Can You Learn Anything from Reality TV?

Of course, we usually watch these shows out of curiosity about other people’s lives, however in some cases, you may start watching something because it relates to a career you have actually been considering for yourself, or find a job so interesting when you see it on TV that you think it might be what you’d like to do for a living. In these cases, just how much can we really tell about a career from what is shown on reality TV? Can you really tell if a job will be right for you just by watching one of these entertaining series?

Behind the Editing

Naturally, everybody knows that no job is as exciting as reality shows make it out to be. Even glamorous jobs don’t really cause you to meet as many interesting characters or have as many adventures as the people on these shows are shown to experience. This is partly because the shows are heavily edited to show only the most interesting moments, and of course because there are often things that are set up or scripted. However, a lot of the time the people behind reality shows really are experts in the field the shows deal with.

Reality show My Hollywood, for example, which follows people from all different backgrounds trying to make it in entertainment, has as an executive producer Michael David Palance, who was himself an actor who went through a lot of the experiences the people on the show do in his career. This means that people watching the show for some actual insights as well as entertainment are getting some of the benefits of what Michael Palance knows about the industry.

Focus on The Work, Not the Personalities

People who appear on reality shows are chosen because they have a factor that will make them entertaining to watch. Just because someone you see on a show seems really cool or funny, doesn’t really tell you anything about the job they do. Equally, someone who seems mean or humorless shouldn’t really put you off the job that they do. When watching reality shows to learn about a career, look beyond the drama and charisma, and focus on what sort of things the people actually do most of the time.

A reality show does show an exaggerated version of a career, where all clients are interesting people, all deadlines are down to the wire challenges, and all setbacks are dramatic. However, if you can look beyond all of this, there is actually a lot of useful insight from genuine professionals to be found.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.