Summer Programs: As Seen on TV

Editor, Porter Sargent Handbooks

Jul   2011



A 2005 survey by the recruitment firm Office Angels found that 82% of 16- to 24-year-olds felt that television series influenced their choice of career. Here’s a guide to summer programs that let high school students preview careers inspired by some of our favorite shows. You know all the best series are in re-runs in the summer, anyways.


Symptoms include strong intellectual ability, a love of the sciences, and the desire to help others. Maybe it’s lupus? It’s not lupus. You’re just suffering from a passion for a career in medicine or healthcare. Learn to make the differential diagnosis at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Summer Science Scholars Academy, or do a research internship with the National Institutes of Health or the Stanford Institutes of Medicine.


Any Gleeks out there inspired to take your summer in a New Direction? Try out a teaching career at the Arizona State University Hunnicutt Future Educators' Academy. Or if singing is your passion, check out vocal programs offered by the Berklee Summer Performance Program and Oberlin Conservatory of Music Summer Programs. Warning: no Auto-Tune allowed.

Parks and Recreation

The funniest show on television shows there’s more to careers in government than all that glamour and flash you see on C-SPAN. Work your way up Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness at the Choate Rosemary Hall John F. Kennedy '35 Institute in Government, St. Albans School of Public Service, or The Bill of Rights Institute Constitutional Academy.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

The nice thing about being a real forensic investigator is you get more than 42 minutes plus commercial breaks to solve cases. Also, nobody expects you to make witty remarks while you’re wrist-deep inside a homicide victim. McDaniel College Forensic Science Camp covers blood analysis, fingerprinting, analysis of hair and fibers, DNA analysis, and ballistics analysis. And CSI: Miami fans can sample the forensic science course offered by the University of Miami Summer Scholar Programs.

The Office

It’s probably a safe bet that none of Dunder-Mifflin’s employees grew up wanting to sell paper, but they seem happy enough. Check out the basics of a business career at Operation Enterprise, Georgetown University's Fundamentals of Business, or University of Pennsylvania's Leadership in the Business World, limited to a select group of students admitted on the basis of academic excellence and demonstrated leadership. So you probably won’t get in because you stink at math! Boom roasted.

Mad Men

You need more than a well-tailored suit and a few skinny ties to make it in the cutthroat world of advertising today. Future account execs should look to the business programs listed above, but wannabe Don Drapers on the creative side might be better served by a creative writing program like the University of Iowa Young Writers' Studio. And graphic artists can study advertising design at the School of Visual Arts Summer Pre-College Program in New York City—just two blocks from Madison Avenue.

The Jersey Shore

MTV’s celebrated documentary series deconstructing modern Italian-American cultural identity takes its cast back to the old country for season four, filmed in Florence, Italy. University of Dallas Summer Programs Abroad in Rome allow students to experience Italy firsthand, with sessions covering Latin language and Shakespeare’s plays set in Italy. There’s not really a career to be previewed here, but imagine how impressed your friends will be when you can say “Gym/tan/laundry” in Latin. 

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About Jim Martinho

Jim Martinho

Jim worked as an Editor at Porter Sargent Handbooks from 2005 until 2012, following his graduation from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism. Jim’s first task at Porter Sargent was to research summer programs for the Guide to Summer Camps and Summer Schools, published since 1924 to describe recreational and educational summer opportunities for kids and teens. Jim helped to make the Guide’s 1600+ program listings fully searchable online at In his free time Jim enjoys reading, playing guitar, and seeing live music. He spent his own high school summers in suburban Boston working at a supermarket and freelancing for local newspapers.

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