Wednesday, 30 October 2013

What does your Halloween costume say about your career aspirations?

I’ve often wondered if there is a connection between the costumes people wear at Halloween and their career aspirations. Does the kid standing at your door in the Spiderman costume hope to one day fight crime, become a newspaper report or do a PhD in entomology?

I did a quick search of the internet to see if I could come up with anything on the relationship between Halloween costumes and career aspirations but found nothing. (Most of the sites I got were for companies selling Halloween costumes.) So I decided to do some research of my own. First, I made a list of classic Halloween costumes. It included witch, ghost, vampire, pirate, princess, zombie, angel, superhero, dog and grim reaper. I then ask a few of my co-workers the first career that came to their mind for each costume on my list. I found some interesting results.

The two costumes that yielded the most common responses were angel and superhero. Four people said ‘nurse’ for angel and four said ‘firefighter’ for superhero. Other responses for angel included guide, paramedic and non-profit worker. Other responses for superhero included athlete, aid worker, police officer, construction worker and librarian. Most of these responses are not surprising given the traits often associated with these two careers. This was true for some of the other costumes too. For example, included among the responses for grim reaper were mortician, funeral home director and medical examiner; these were also responses for ghost, along with magician, paranormal expert and undertaker.

The careers that jumped to mind for some costumes seemed to be related to the work environment or things people work with. For example, for vampire two people responded with ‘dentist’ (I’m assuming a teeth connection) and two with ‘the person who takes your blood when you go to donate.’ A couple of people thought of ‘police officer’ when I said dog (I assumed their first thought was of a police dog), while other obvious responses for dog were dog walker and animal rescue worker.

The career that came up most often for different costumes was librarian. As noted above, it was among the responses for superhero, which I totally get. (As a student, a librarian came to my rescue more than once). Librarian was also one of the responses for ghost and for witch. (Hmmm, perhaps someone’s experience was not as positive as mine?) Other careers that came up for different careers were politician for princess and for grim reaper, and computer technician for pirate and for zombie.

Some of the responses I found most curious were science sales rep and snowboard instructor for dog, bed and breakfast owner for ghost, and book store owner for vampire. The funniest? Hot dog vendor for dog. And my favourite? Mom for nurse!

As I think back about what I dressed up as at Halloween when I was a kid, I’m not sure I see any connection with my career aspirations. By far, one of my most memorable Halloweens was the time I dressed up as two people, but that was just a ploy to get double the treats - and it worked!


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