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15 Significant Ways Parental Expectations Impact Career Choices

Parental Expectations Impact Career Choices

To understand the influence of parental expectations on career choices, we gathered insights from fifteen professionals, including CEOs and founders. Their experiences range from defying expectations to carve their own path to taking parents' advice leads to a marketing career. Dive into these diverse perspectives to explore how parental expectations can shape career paths.

  • Defying Expectations to Carve Own Path
  • Moving from an Imposed Path to a Personal Choice
  • Embracing Parental Expectations of Entrepreneurship
  • Choosing Creativity Over Parents' Law Career Hope
  • Enabling a Career Shift
  • Inspiring Team Building Career
  • Spurring Entrepreneurship
  • Providing a Framework for Visionary Career
  • Guiding Entrepreneurial Journey
  • Shaping Career Choices
  • Fueling Aesthetics Career
  • Influencing the Career Path
  • Upbringing Enables Career Flexibility
  • Driving Tech Leadership
  • Leading to a Marketing Career

Defying Expectations to Carve Own Path

Growing up, my father, a dedicated police officer turned small-business owner, had a clear vision for my path. He hoped I would follow in his footsteps, stepping into the world of law enforcement or entrepreneurship. 

As an economics major, I was initially set to fulfill that expectation and join the police force after college. However, a disagreement about my academic performance sparked a revolutionary change in my mindset.

In an act of defiance, I chose to carve out my own path. I switched my major to anthropology and embarked on an exciting journey into archaeology. But life had more twists and turns in store. 

After starting a family, I found myself drawn towards personal training, a passion that ultimately led me to become an endurance coach.

I never ended up as a police officer, but funny enough, I did become a small-business owner. The satisfaction I derive from my work is immense, and I wouldn't trade the path I took to get to where I am.

Stephanie Holbrook, Head Coach, Coach Stephanie Holbrook

Moving from an Imposed Path to a Personal Choice

Both my parents were teachers, and they were the first generation in both families to go to university in the 1960s. Education and the stable job of teaching got them out of council houses and into a better lifestyle.

Growing up, they valued education, and I had no choice in the matter; expectations were high. My career was mapped out before me, and achieving good grades, followed by securing a solid job, loomed before me.

I did what I was told and resented, then appreciated, my choices. Teaching gave me a lot of skills and experiences and developed me as a person positively.

Then life changed after having a family, and suddenly I was presented with the opportunity to make a career change. I even surprised myself with how quickly I jumped at the chance to live out my own career choices.

I don't regret following the beaten path my parents trail-blazed. But for me, there is definitely more personal satisfaction in carving out my own way in life.

Katharine Gallagher, Founder, Personal and Professional Growth,

Embracing Parental Expectations of Entrepreneurship

My parents were entrepreneurs, so I grew up in a business environment. They also expected me to start my own company. Though a lot of people may consider this a lot of pressure, I think that I fully embraced this expectation because I had grown to value hard work and making something that is your own. 

Therefore, when thinking about career choices, I merged several of my interests—education and tech—into a startup company that I created in college.

Adam Shlomi, Founder, SoFlo Tutors

Choosing Creativity Over Parents' Law Career Hope

Growing up, there was a bit of a tug-of-war between what my parents wanted for me and what I wanted for myself. They really hoped I'd become a lawyer, but I always felt I was more of a creative person. The idea of a career in law just seemed too dull for me. 

In the end, my parents didn't push too hard. They said the important thing was that I finish my studies, no matter what subject I chose. So, I pursued a path that felt right for me, one that allowed me to express my creativity and not be stuck in a career that didn't excite me.

Martin Potocki, CEO, Jobera

Enabling a Career Shift

My parents took care not to exercise undue influence over my career choices, and I'm eternally grateful. I hope to achieve the same effect on my own kids.

Something I heard a lot in my house growing up was, "Do your best." They made it clear that whatever I wanted to study was fine, so long as I studied something, and gave it my all.

Because of their guidance, I wasn't afraid to shift careers in my thirties. After years in consulting, I took the leap and opened my own recruiting firm. It was a nerve-wracking journey, and I don't think I would have managed it if it weren't for their support. 

I'm so glad they didn't set narrow parameters on my interests and passions. I may never have discovered how well entrepreneurship suits me if they had.

Rob Reeves, CEO and President, Redfish Technology

Inspiring Team Building Career

My career choices have been deeply influenced by my father's lifelong love of leading corporate teams. He actually loves leading a team of any kind, even my 11-year-old's soccer team. He taught me from an early age that being an active and engaged part of a group, whether in sports, clubs, or even within our own family, was a vital part of life.

This upbringing empowered me to understand that my work and contribution benefited the larger whole, and led me to pursue roles where I could cultivate exceptional teams. As an executive recruiter, I've witnessed firsthand what types of personalities will spur each other to greater things. I love bringing people together who will bring out the best in each other, even if it requires good conflict, as all great teams do.

Michael Morgan, Managing Director, Medallion Partners

Spurring Entrepreneurship

My parents were great believers in not letting yourself be pigeonholed into any one thing, but to be versatile and be able to do anything and everything to at least some degree. After all, you never knew what the world was going to throw at you when growing up in Bucharest. 

This has had a fairly profound impact on my career progression, as I went from being a programmer who knew less than nothing about running a business to a successful entrepreneur by just jumping into it feet-first and learning as I went along the way to a thriving business. I don't believe that I can't do something in my career simply because I don't know how to do it right now, and I attribute much of that attitude to my upbringing.

Dragos Badea, CEO, Yarooms

Providing a Framework for Visionary Career

My parents' expectations played a pivotal role in shaping my career trajectory. They always emphasized the values of hard work, perseverance, and integrity. While they hoped I'd pursue a "safe" and "stable" profession, they also instilled in me the importance of passion and purpose in one's work.

When I chose to embark on the journey, there was a mix of apprehension and support from them. Their concerns were rooted in genuine care, but their foundational teachings became my compass. I channeled their emphasis on dedication and ethics into building a business that wasn't just profitable, but also impactful.

In hindsight, their expectations acted as a dual-edged sword: they provided a framework of values while also challenging me to break out of conventional molds and chase my vision. Today, I realize that the balance of their guidance and my drive has been instrumental in molding the entrepreneur and leader I've become.

Joe Kruk, Founder, Vision Detection Systems LLC

Guiding Entrepreneurial Journey

Reflecting on how my parents' expectations shaped my career, I'd say they played a pivotal role. I run a residential cleaning business now, but I remember when I was younger, my parents always emphasized the importance of hard work and entrepreneurial spirit. They didn't dictate a specific career path but encouraged me to find my own.

As you navigate your own path, you might feel the pull of their dreams for you. For instance, I initially pursued an MBA, partly because of their emphasis on education. Even though I didn't end up in a corporate job, that knowledge turned out to be a game-changer when I started my own business.

So, in a way, their expectations didn't direct my career but provided guardrails that guided me to where I am today. It's about understanding that their hopes are just that—hopes. At the end of the day, your career is your journey, and it's up to you to decide the route.

John White, MBA - Owner, White Fox Cleaning Services

Shaping Career Choices

My parents always emphasized to me the value of striking a good work-life balance. Observing their dedication to familial and personal obligations, besides their professional pursuits, influenced my career decisions. This swayed my career choices toward fields that promote and reward a healthy equilibrium between professional and personal fulfillment. The holistic worldview has been influential in shaping my work path.

Gerrid Smith, Communications Manager, Texas Property Tax Loan Pros

Fueling Aesthetics Career

My parents played a crucial role in shaping my career choices by inspiring me to pursue my passions. Rather than imposing expectations, they inspired me to explore my interests and find my own path. Their encouragement fueled my journey into the world of aesthetics, where I discovered a passion for helping others embrace their self-worth.

Diane Howard, RN and Founder, Esthetic Finesse

Influencing the Career Path

This is an interesting question. We're all influenced by the wants and expectations of our parents to some extent. Some parents gently nudge their kids in the right direction, while others live vicariously through them and have a stranglehold on their academic and professional development.

My parents went for the former option, and I can say that they instilled values that influenced my career choices to this day. First and foremost, they taught me the importance of obtaining a quality education. They expected me to succeed academically, and that often depended on my teachers. In a way, that inspired me to work on EuHu. 

Helping teachers create lesson plans doesn't just make their jobs easier; it also improves the quality of student education. So, you could say that my work on the project is directly influenced by my parents' views on education and their expectations.

Chris Burgess, Project Lead, EuHu by Findel

Upbringing Enables Career Flexibility

Like most parents, mine mostly wanted me to be happy and secure in whatever career I chose. Failing that, they would have liked me to be a lawyer, doctor, or engineer. Jokes aside, this low-pressure environment was quite helpful in shaping my approach to my career, as it made me comfortable to jump to new jobs and even whole new careers when I felt the time was right.

Onno Halsema, CEO, Contentoo

Driving Tech Leadership

Growing up with an immigrant mother, there was an inherent pressure to excel both professionally and personally. Her expectations instilled in me a drive to succeed and a deep sense of responsibility. While she envisioned success in traditional terms, I paved my own path. 

Her emphasis on hard work and resilience may have influenced my decision to lead CauseLabs, blending my passion for tech with purpose. Her values carried a heavy burden of needing to succeed at the American dream, while still prioritizing family and personal growth alongside my career. It was hard to find balance. 

Yet, I always knew her greatest desire was for my happiness. In essence, my mother's expectations became a compass, guiding but not dictating my journey. I have forged my own path to evolve with changing times. And I have had to navigate the balancing act many entrepreneurs juggle. I was influenced by my mother’s expectations, but I have also surpassed them.

Sheryle Gillihan, Co-Owner, CauseLabs

Leading to a Marketing Career

My parents always told me to go out and find something I love to do for my career, and I greatly appreciated that. I ended up going into marketing and moved away for 10 years. Using what I learned, I could return a decade later and use my skills to help their business and repay them for everything they did for me. 

Since helping them, their business has increased by 400%, and they can now retire much sooner than they ever believed possible. Nothing has made me happier.

Jeff Michael, Ecommerce Business Owner, Tanzanite Jewelry Designs

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Careers That Matter provides online programs to teenagers across the globe. The organisation is based in Melbourne Australia. We have students from across Australia including Sydney, NSW 2000, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Perth, WA 6000, Adelaide, SA 5000, Hobart, TAS 7000, Canberra, ACT 2600, Darwin, NT 0800. We also take students from The United Kingdom including London, Europe, and the United States including New York , Canada, New Zealand including Auckkland and Wellington, and Asia including Singapore and Malaysia.