Friends Play Crucial Role in Shaping Peers’ Careers
On International Friendship Day
Friends Play Crucial Role in Shaping Peers’ Careers
The impact of companions on career decisions often begins during adolescence. Career guidance empowers individuals to make the right choices for their future. Professional friendships enhance productivity and foster a strong connection to the workplace.
Friends and peers significantly influence individuals’ lives, including their future career choices. Having friends who share the same interests and ambitions can affect a person’s career decisions, guiding them towards a specific professional path, as people generally feel comfortable and confident when surrounded by friends who share similar. By engaging in conversations about career dreams and aspirations, individuals can benefit from their friends’ advice and experiences, making them more capable of making informed and appropriate decisions for their education and careers. The influence of peers also extends to expanding knowledge and learning opportunities. When individuals have friends with similar interests, they can communicate and discuss topics related to their shared interests.
As we celebrate International Friendship Day on the 30th of July, we reflect on the impact of friends in guiding their peers and determining the professional experiences of young individuals who need direction and guidance in shaping their future careers.
According to Ola Abdulla, Senior Career Development Specialist at Qatar Career Development Center (QCDC), the influence of peers surpasses that of parents when it comes to career guidance for teenagers. She conducted a study in 2015 with 220 high school students in Qatar on the most influential factors in career decisions. The study revealed that friends were the most influential factor, as 180 students chose the same career path as their peers. While some students were influenced by their peers and parents, others were impacted by different factors. However, friends emerged as the most significant factor in these students’ career decisions.
“I followed up on the research by conducting interviews with 20 students to understand why they chose the same field as their peers. Some of them felt at ease following the same career as their familial peers (cousins or relatives), without considering the rationale behind their choices. Meanwhile, four students stated that they chose their preferred majors based on their parents’ influence.” Ola added.
She continued, “The situation may have changed now, but I recall reading a study two years ago about the influence of peers on career decisions among youth in Arab countries. That study also concurred with my findings, citing friends and peers as the most influential factor in career decisions.”
Ola emphasized that the influence of peers on career decisions generally starts during adolescence, around the age of 12, particularly among boys who tend to follow their peers more than girls, as girls often possess a more independent and well-formed identity by that age. She pointed out that the influence of peers on their colleagues’ career choices is mostly positive, but it can occasionally lead to undesirable outcomes, whether in meeting the demands of the job market or aligning career choices with personal skills and capabilities. This can happen when there is a lack of proper career guidance, as people have diverse abilities, skills, knowledge, and financial resources. All these factors need to be carefully considered when selecting a career to avoid disadvantaging oneself. For example, if someone lacks the financial means to study abroad, they cannot simply follow their friend who chose to study abroad. Moreover, certain individuals possess skills in paying attention to intricate details, qualifying them for careers in engineering for example, while others excel in creativity and innovation, making them less compatible with professions like medicine or surgery. Therefore, the importance of career guidance and counseling becomes evident.
She further explained that the goal of career guidance is to help individuals identify clear paths, plans, and goals that align with their skills and capabilities, enabling them to make the right decisions for their professional future. QCDC’s work revolves around assisting youth in pursuing career paths that suit their abilities and skills, based on various psychometric assessments that help them discover their skills and the connection between those skills and their career paths. This is vital to prevent blindly following peers and to foster a deep understanding of one’s career choices.
Ola firmly believes in the saying “You are who your friends are,” and that choosing the right friends plays a role in career development. Therefore, it is essential to surround oneself with successful and purpose-driven individuals who contribute to personal growth and professional achievements. This can be achieved through enlightening discussions and knowledge sharing, which are both very healthy aspects. As individuals spend more time at work than with their families, fostering friendships in the workplace creates a stronger bond to the organization and generates happiness and a willingness to work even after hours, without any mandatory obligations, thanks to the strong connections and understanding among colleagues. This cultivates a distinct work culture and enhances productivity.
“Every situation has its pros and cons. One of the downsides may arise when boundaries blur, and colleagues find it challenging to separate professional and personal aspects due to friendships. However, adhering to professional ethics is the foundation of maintaining a pleasant work environment, which is not excessively informal. Striking this balance can only be achieved by respecting boundaries and acknowledging that coworkers are there to collaborate and work together and not just coexist.” Ola concluded.