In This Issue:
Teenager Alyssa Coward knew what career she wanted to pursue by the time she was in elementary school. Her inspiration? Her mom Carrie, a hairdresser and stylist. “I always wanted to do the same thing she did,” says Alyssa, a recent graduate of Hopewell Valley Central High School in Hopewell Township.
Alyssa took vo-tech classes at Arthur R. Sypek Center in Pennington—the same place her mom studied when she was in high school—starting her junior year in preparation for the New Jersey State Board in Cosmetology & Hairstyling exam that she took in May 2011 to become a licensed cosmetologist. “I’ve learned how to curl people’s hair, the different ways of making people’s hair look good and how to color hair,” says Alyssa, who regularly tests her technique on Carrie. “My mom is good for answering questions and helping with things I don’t quite understand. If there’s something I’m doing wrong, she can show me a better way to do it.”
As you think about training and education for your career, some of you, like Alyssa, may be considering following in Mom’s or Dad’s footsteps. Perhaps you’ve always admired mom’s career as a lawyer or dad’s job as a teacher—or your parents own a family business that needs your expertise once you graduate from high school or college. Whatever the case, now’s the time to give some thought to the pros and cons of all-in-the-family career choices.
Domenick Celentano (the frozen pizza guys!) helps people understand the dynamics of family and business. Before becoming a consultant and a professor at Kean University in Union, he worked for his own family’s packaged food business, Celentano Bros. Here are Dom’s tips for following Mom and Dad into business:
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Real People column’s “View All” feature and selecting “Following Your Parent’s Career Path.”
You’ve been putting it off—but the time has come. You need to have “the talk” with Mom and Dad about what you want to do with your life. While it may sometimes seem easier to keep them out of your decision-making process, it’s probably a good idea to let them in on your plans. They will likely have valuable input and insight to help direct your career choices. If you’re anticipating some parental pushback, consider these talking tips:
You: “Mom, Dad, I have decided to become a musician. My band is good and I think we can make it in the music business.”
Parents: “What! A music career is totally impractical. How will you make a living? What about becoming a doctor or a lawyer?”
Talking Tips: Don’t get defensive—after all, Mom and Dad only want what is best for you, including a secure income and a sound career path. Here’s what you might say and do:
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Advice 101 column’s “View All” feature and selecting “Talking Careers with Mom and Dad.”
The struggling economy has resulted in fewer jobs for college grads, prompting many young people to go where the work is—and join the family business.
Take, for instance, Callen R. Springmeyer, who was profiled in a September 2011 NJBIZ article. Springmeyer earned a master’s degree in business from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in 2010 and, after no luck on the job interview circuit, decided to return to his roots. He joined East Hanover-based U.S. Kitchens and Baths, in the family since 1920, taking the company into the fourth generation. “I have the opportunity to make a difference here," he said. "And there is no better way to learn small-business management than under your father's wing." He also helped bring the company into the social media age through Facebook and LinkedIn.
R. Dean Springmeyer, president of U.S. Kitchens and Baths, told NJBIZ that his son knows the business from having worked there while in school, and has been able to step into a range of roles, from overseeing the shipping department to dealing with vendors. If the job market were stronger, he would have wanted his son to join another company right out of school "to get exposure to a different environment, culture and management style than we have here. I think that adds to a more complete background for anybody thinking of coming into a family business."
Domenick Celentano knows a thing or two about family business. Before becoming a consultant and a professor at Kean University in Union, he worked for his own family’s packaged food business, Celentano Bros. in Verona. It grew to be the second-largest national brand in the Italian prepared foods category. In this essay, Celentano has some valuable advice for young people who are on the family business career path.
While I was growing up in my family’s frozen foods business, Celentano Bros., I had no idea about the importance of establishing independent credibility and marketability. When the business was sold in 2000, I thought I could run other small- to mid-size prepared foods businesses. “Can you send me a résumé?” was the typical request. Résumé? Just go into any supermarket on the East Coast and look at the frozen Italian section; that was my résumé! “What references do you have?” they would ask. Uh, well, my mom and dad? That did not cut it! I was shocked to discover that credentials were seemingly more important than actual accomplishments. Nobody seemed impressed that through years of hands-on family business experience, I had developed a breadth of business knowledge that few of my colleagues could ever hope to achieve.
Too many members of family businesses have the air of entitlement and neither understand nor develop credibility, [meaning that they don’t have to worry about the rest of the world believing in their abilities and skills because their family already does]. For most of us, that day will come when the family business is sold. You need to be prepared to enter the broader marketplace and ultimately work for someone with a different last name. The key is to work on credibility and marketability [improving your ability to get hired] simultaneously—one supports the other.
If you are a successor to the business, as I was, you should take steps now to establish external credibility and marketability:
• Create and maintain a résumé and biography. You want to have a portfolio of your accomplishments. If your business has a website, make sure that the site has a section outlining family history and a place for key members’ résumés and bios.
• Get involved with industry organizations. Creating a high level of visibility in external organizations in your industry allows you to establish credibility beyond the four walls of your business. Speak at trade shows, participate in advisory boards, showcase your business as a leader in the field.
• Get involved in your community. Run for office; sit on your Planning Board or Board of Adjustment; participate on the Board of Education. Anything community-oriented establishes credibility outside of your family business.
• Get an MBA [a master’s of business administration]. In today’s business world, an undergraduate degree is not enough. An MBA adds a high level of credibility and enhances your marketability to the external world.