I’ve noticed that there seem to be trends in occupations in families. My own family has a preponderance of medical professionals and teachers. I guess it’s kind of like a family business…my cousin is a pharmacist and her son is in college to become a pharmacist while her daughter is in school to be a nurse. If you grow up seeing a profession all of the time, does that make you more likely or less likely to follow suit? I guess it depends on the occupation and the person. My mom was a nurse and a nurse educator while my dad was in the Navy and neither of those professions held any appeal for me. Of course, I’ve yet to actually choose a profession, so I probably shouldn’t count them out completely. My mom did want to be a writer, but wouldn’t because she was afraid her book would end up on the discount table and that would just kill her. I have the same ambition, but without that particular fear.
A couple years ago I was really into genealogy. I loved reading the census because they listed the occupation of the members of household. It was interesting to me to see how, unlike today, an entire street or neighborhood might have only one occupation listed. My mom’s family is from western Pennsylvania, so when looking at the census that lists my great great grandparents, the whole street was filled with miners. Sometimes there would be railroad people occupying the neighborhood that housed my family.
The point, I suppose, is that environment and family play a large part in shaping our ideas about jobs and careers. Is the black sheep the one who bucks tradition and becomes something out of the ordinary? Or should they be lauded for their imagination and courage to go outside of the norm? In a family of accountants and math majors (my husband’s family) we have seen in the next generation one computer animator, one soldier, one accountant, one video game designer and one circus clown. Is it because the world is a much more open place that these kids feel free to pursue more unique career dreams? Or, is it rather because the face of the job market has changed so much that these “unique” careers are becoming the new norm? The miner or railroad man might be a much more unique line of work in the next 20 years as the job world keeps up with the technological world.