Jan. 26, 2004 -- While being a celebrity or a professional athlete are still sought-after occupations for teen-agers, careers in business top the list of "ideal jobs for America's teens.
Junior Achievement, a non-profit organization focused on teaching the basics of business, economics and free trade to middle and high school students, released the findings of its fifth annual Interprise Poll and found that American teens think business is cool — for the most part. Almost 10% of the teens polled said "business occupations were their "ideal jobs, followed by "doctor and "teacher, each receiving 6.2% of the responses, with "entertainer coming in third at 5.7%.
"For the third-straight year, business occupations have led the way, Darrell Luzzo, senior vice president of education for Junior America, said. "I think we might be seeing some sort of evolution here away from the programmed notion of working for a large corporation and more toward owning and running a small business.
Of the 1,065 teens between the ages of 13 to 18 who responded, more than two-thirds (68.4%) said that owning a business "appealed to them. Male students showed more entrepreneurial interest than their female classmates, with 74.1% of males hoping to be the next generation of entrepreneurs compared to 62.9% of females. Black teens showed the most interest in going it alone with almost 80% showing interest in owning their own business -- white students showed less interest with 63.5%.
Though it's hard to image something more impressive to America's teens than a TV personality, Luzzo points to the influence of parents and the visceral experiences they hand down to their children -- not a façade portrayed by The Donald or his TV contemporaries -- as the key reason why the world of business has crept into popular teen culture.
"Shows like 'The Apprentice' have had an influence, but the parents are still the most prevalent, Luzzo explains. "Now the kids witness more and more adults close to them opening their own companies and becoming very successful and they think, 'I can do that too.'
However, the study showed that 75.5% of the teens surveyed said they would "not follow in the career path of either parent, illustrating that going to college, getting a degree and working for a large corporation may have lost some of the luster it had over previous generations.
"The sheer happiness and benefits available from being your own boss outweigh anything the corporate world has to offer, and the kids see that, Luzzo said. "These teens see what their parents have gone through with layoffs and such and they aren't as interested in being a part of that as they were a few years back.
The Interprise Poll also found that 81.2% of the females surveyed said they needed a four-year degree to achieve their ideal job, with 73.2% of male teens saying the same.
Also worth noting, since the 2003 poll, salary expectations for male and female teens for the careers of "businessperson, "doctor and "entertainer have narrowed, disappeared or outright reversed since the 2005 survey, showing an increased expectation of earning potential for female teens.