The Upside & Downside of Following in Your Parents’ Career Path

family businessesYour parent is successful in a certain profession, but should you follow in her footsteps? It’s a tough decision. In a roundtable, a couple of experts weigh in on the dilemma. Under what circumstances should you enter into the same profession as your parent?

“When you love it and when you are good at it. That ‘and’ is important. I have worked with clients who have had one or the other and it was a disaster. Love with no skill will make you look like a bumbling, emotional fool and skill with no love will push you into boredom, hatred, disdain, and potential insanity,” says Dethra U. Giles of ExecuPrep, LLC. Oftentimes, when someone enters the same professions as a successful parent, they don’t seem to have the same success. Why?

“Successful parents who have created their own career path oftentimes see more success than their children who chose to enter the same profession because of their children’s lack of passion and enjoyment. They are also not faced with the same ‘make it or break it’ circumstances that their parents were in so they do not have the same resolve,” says Michael Lan, senior resume consultant at Resume Writer Direct.

Adds Giles, “Imitation is the best form of flattery but it is a horrible path to success. Most children fail when they follow in the professional footsteps of their parents because they are trying to be mini versions of their parents instead of grand versions of themselves.” What questions should you ask yourself before entering the same profession as a parent?

“Do I love this profession? Do I have room to be authentically me as a professional? Will people see me as the child of…or as a legitimate professional?” asks Giles. Sometimes growing up watching your parents do their jobs is alluring, but how can you tell if your childhood dream to do the same thing is based in reality?

“Try something else. When you love something you will always find your way back to it. I advise this especially for children who plan to follow their parents professionally,” suggests Giles. “Children are often enamored with their parents and desire to be like them. Many times, this adoration results in misguided professional choices. Trying something different is a great way to determine if a professional choice is a great one.”

Adds Lan, “You can even ask your parent to take you to work one day and see what they do first-hand to help you make your decision.” What are the pluses of taking your parents’ lead down a career path?

“Young adults who have decided to follow their parents’ footsteps already have the path paved for them. They already have a mentor to look to whenever they require guidance and are driven by a sense of familial competition that can provide just as strong a resolve as their parents’,” Lan points out.