My mom has been a business owner for over twenty years and her company is like the sibling I never had. Before I could walk, my mom was taking me on business trips and at 13 I was working with her clients at industry trade shows on the weekends. While most kids would fake sick to skip school, I would fake sick to go to her office in New York City. Growing up in the industry, everyone assumed that one day I would join my mom’s business and eventually take over when the time came. After all, I loved working there, right?
Wrong. Well, not entirely wrong, I did enjoy working there, but I never actually pictured my mom’s business becoming my career. Luckily, my mom never pressured me into working with her – although I know she would love nothing more, deep down. She steadfastly believes that loving what you do is the key ingredient to being successful and because my mom knew that her passion wasn’t my passion, it was always an unspoken agreement that when the time came for me to get internships and eventually a job, I’d have to leave the nest. If I was to be successful like her, I would need to chase my own dreams.
Although my mom is fully supportive of my craving to work outside the family business, interviewers from companies I apply to are not always as supportive. Despite the fact that ninety-five percent of my resume lists accomplishments outside of working for my mom, every interview turns into a discussion of me explaining my mom’s business and my experience there. Sometimes interviewers are receptive and appreciate the fact that I’m interested in learning about a new industry. Other times, interviewers are wary of my intentions to work for their company and are confused as to why I’m not working for the family business. And then, of course, there are the moments of self-doubt. Like most other job seekers, I’ve spent hours perfecting my resume and cover letter and sacrificed weekends traveling to interviews with not a single appealing opportunity coming my way. It is in these moments that I’ve wondered why I’m putting all of this extra stress and pressure on myself when I can easily work for my mom. That’s until I pick up the phone and call my mom for advice and she reminds me of all of the reasons why I need to keep on pushing.
In the end, having a business in the family has been a blessing. If I hadn’t grown up in an environment where following your passion is the norm, I may not have the fire inside me to work towards my own dreams. The safety and security of working for the business is tempting at times, and not all interviewer’s will understand my unique background, but ultimately my desire to make a name for myself and follow my passions trumps all.