Recently we asked on social media what movies and TV shows people thought made great examples for career development (and why).

We got lots of excellent suggestions! This blog post will keep a running list of them so that you can use these examples in your own careers practice.

Here's what we asked:

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and thought, 'That's a really useful example for career development!' Perhaps a character's career path, a moment of change and career crisis, or a compelling example of skills and qualities in a specific career. What was the show and what struck you about it?

BECOME socials - careers on screen post

Can you think of an example that illustrates a particular moment in career exploration, or that demonstrates change in someone's career path? If yes, let us know via our social posts (LinkedIn, Facebook) or email.

We'll keep gathering examples and put them below.

the responses

(in no particular order)
  • Whale Rider - a young girl in NZ wants to become village leader. Trailer for 20th anniversary.
  • They Call Me Magic - Bio series on the evolution of Earvin 'Magic' Johnson from student to pro baller to king of the very big hill. Trailer
  • Bluey - Bluey's Mum works in airport security and her Dad works as an archaeologist... oh, except isn't it paleontologists who dig up bones?! Ask a student to check. Here's a fun fan commentary on Bluey's parents' professions and how do they have that nice house...?
  • The Cascade, Season 2 - Prax, a botanist working on a soya farm on Ganymede Station in The Expanse does a great job highlighting the importance of his role and the crops in sustaining life on the station and feeding numerous outposts and crews. 🌱🌱🌱
    Throughout the seasons many trades and technical roles are shown that not only translate well to future times and off-planet but that continue to be in demand even in context of the advanced technology they have available. Medical staff are rarely seen working in critical injury / trauma cases because much of that has apparently been automated. Episode list on IMDB
  • Moana - 'Disney's Moana is something I think has serious career themes in it. Moana breaking free from her parents' expectations to navigate her own path, taking on the challenges that come her way.....learning and improving on her navigational skills. Trying to stay true to herself, her people and her culture. Her mission involves something that most people think is beyond just one person alone. So many parallels can be made!' Moana on IMDB
  • As long as your career doesn't resemble The Shawshank Redemption you're fine. 😆 Although there is a beauty to breaking free from a toxic environment and finding happiness at the end. The Shawshank Redemption on IMDB
  • How about Bend it Like Beckham? - Breaking out of gender & cultural norms & truly doing what makes you feel alive. Relentlessly chase your dreams, you never know where it will take you. ⚽
  • I think the big one for me is Billy Elliot. - Having the strength to step out of line and follow your own path even when it’s so different from what is expected of you based on who you are and where you come from.
  • A whole lot on Apple TV: The Morning Show, Lessons in Chemistry, Ted Lasso, Swagger, Shrinking. (Anyone want to give your examples of what and why in these shows?) 📺
  • For All Mankind - One of the most interesting career paths is taken by Karen Baldwin. From navy wife, to astronaut wife and mum, to bar owner, to space tour operator, to space company exec. More about the Karen Baldwin character
  • Nine to Five with Dolly Parton. 🕔
  • The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960), Le Couperet / The Ax (2005), Modern Times (Chaplin), Air Miles, Educating Rita - all of these examples involve either people feeling stuck in repetitive jobs below their potential (The Apartment, Educating Rita), the dehumanising impact of work (Modern Times, The Apartment, Educating Rita) or the impact of loss of work through redundancy (Le Couperet - “The Axe”, Air Miles)… Love is frequently portrayed as antidote to career problems - they are films after all. So is love all you need? Or failing that, maybe quality career education and counselling might be a love substitute to address the iniquities, calamities and frustrations borne of work that provides few opportunities for self expression and skill development, or security for that matter. On IMDB: The Apartment, Le Couperet / The Ax, Modern Times, Air Miles, Educating Rita.
  • Sliding Doors - The future can change in an instant...  Sliding Doors on IMDB
  • Catch Me If You Can - 'What self belief and chutzpah Frank Abagnale possessed.' said one person. Someone else wrote: 'What about Frank Abignale Jr. (Leonardo Di Caprio) in Catch Me If You Can. Pilot, Doctor, lawyer and ultimately an FBI analyst. He developed influencing skills, negotiation skills, learned about printing process and calligraphy and he developed an amazing self confidence! Ended up being the FBI subject matter expert in forgery... quite the CV.'
  • Tutta la Vita D'Avanti (Her Whole Life Ahead of Her) - A young recent graduate with a PhD can't find a job -- eventually she takes work in a sales call centre for a large Italian firm. At first she is amused by the rah-rah sales culture of the company, but then the  comedy starts to show real teeth as it spirals into the dubious tactics used by the sales managers and the obsession with profit and superficial tokens of success. In Italian with subtitles. Tutta La Vita on IMDB
  • Mythic Quest series on Apple TV. Follows the employees of a video game publisher with a pretty solid look at multiple roles like game programmer, designer, tester, data analytics, social media manager.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird – the book or the 1962 movie. Atticus Finch has inspired many a young person to go into law. ⚖️
  • About career changers - one person wrote: 'Ooh, you could think about this all day. The two most high profile career changers I can think of are Anakin Skywalker (if only Obi-Wan was a better career adviser) and Forrest Gump, the ultimate opportunist.'
  • Never Have I Ever - 'The last few episodes of Season 3 of Netflix show Never Have I Ever followed the main character’s sort of crisis as she figured out whether Ivy League college was really her dream. She also had some encounters that challenged her expectations of the college experience. Such a good storyline and so important for secondary students at the end of their schooling journey to see this experience depicted on screen.' Season 3 Trailer
  • The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2 - Bob Parr has a career and identity crisis when superheroes are outlawed, which plays out with effects on the whole family.  In the second movie Helen Parr gets a new and exciting role and Bob takes on the child-caring role. So much about careers in here. Plus Edna! The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2 on IMDB
  • AND lots more to come as we update this post...

What's your best example and why?

Got an example to add to the list? Let us know via our social posts (LinkedIn, Facebook) or on email.

ExplorerAnd what does this have to do with the serious business of careers? Lots!

Our blog post Cultivating Curiosity explains the role of playful curiosity in careers exploration and Dr Jim Bright on why exploring widely is so important.

Feeling Seen, Feeling Known

Feeling Seen, Feeling Known

Career conversations as a way to help students in the transition years Most educators, parents and specialists alike would agree: the transition from...

Read More
Transforming Senior Subject Selection

Transforming Senior Subject Selection

You know how - a bit too often - when discussing senior subject selections with students, they say, 'I haven't really thought about it'. Or they come...

Read More
What does a Whole-School Approach to Careers Ed Look Like?

What does a Whole-School Approach to Careers Ed Look Like?

Quick quiz! What does your school's motto or slogan say? Got it in mind? Great. Now here's the important bit: Does the school slogan relate to the...

Read More