All in the Family

Korn/Ferry International conducted a survey of executives recently and one of the questions examined career choice. The survey wanted to know how the career paths of executives had matched up with their career plans they had as children and young adults. Forty-six percent of the respondents said their career fields were “very closely related” to the careers they aspired to as children. The profession most commonly cited that executives responding had wanted to “grow up to be” were business professional, professional athlete, astronaut, and doctor/nurse.

Does this mean that people have a natural tendency to gravitate toward professions that appeal to them or do they find themselves doing what comes most naturally? Thirty-six percent of those responding in the survey said their chosen professions were “somewhat related” to what they wanted to be when they were children. That’s an overwhelming majority of people doing what they want to do or something similar.

Have you ever noticed how professions seem to run in families? I know a family where every female in the family is a nurse except one and she’s a teacher. My physician is an Internal Medicine specialist and she’s married to a surgeon. They have three daughters and all are in medicine – one just started practice as a cardiologist. You have the stereotypical Irish cop who is the fourth or fifth generation police officer in his or her family. My veterinarian has two sons – one is a veterinarian also but the other designs golf courses. Both love to work outside, though, from their childhood years growing up helping dad work on cattle.

It used to be expected that sons would follow their father’s footsteps into certain professions, but with all the choices offered to today’s youth, that should be something that has fallen by the wayside. Interestingly, you still see children following in their parents’ footsteps. Is it because they are “programmed” that way? Is it because they have exposure to their parent’s profession and naturally find interest in them? I am sure whatever the answer is, it’s a combination of factors such as personality type, background, expectations, exposure, etc. I must say it is a bit comforting to know that family businesses and professions are not as uncommon as you would think. A little bit of the good ol’ days still hanging around.

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