Does A Career Path Run In Your Family?

Sometimes, families have traditions that involve career paths. Whether it is a family business or children following in their mother’s or father’s career footsteps, careers that have a family connection can bring together people from different generations in the workplace. While I have no experience with family – related career traditions, I can only imagine that it makes for a very interesting experience, for better or for worse.

Today, I saw a very interesting program on PBS about Mohawk ironworkers. Since the Mohawk are a First Nations people, they have tribal as well as nuclear family connections. One group of Mohawk people live in a place called Kahnawake, which is located in Northern New York and Canada, near Niagara Falls. When the early skyscrapers of New York were being built in the 1920’s, many men from Kahnawake played an important part in their construction. These men were ironworkers, and they worked high above the city, connecting the beams that formed the structures of the tall buildings. New York City is not exactly next door to Kahnawake, so the men would live in the city and would return home when they could. Sometimes, women also went to the city to work in hotels as maids or in other jobs that they could find there. Entire families traveled back and forth between New York City and Kahnawake, working and returning home when they could to visit extended family in the place they knew as home.

Nowadays, many men who work as ironworkers in New York City return home to Kahnawake on the weekends. Many of them come from families of iron workers, although fewer children are following in their parents’ work boots than they did in the previous generations. Some families have traditions and history related to the work that they do. Is your family one of them?

Photo by lightfoot on