The pros and cons of working for the family business


When it comes to working in your family’s business, you might assume that experience such as that wouldn’t look very good on your resumé or offer a realistic work experience.

However, if you’ve got the opportunity to do so, a job in your family’s business can offer you both those things as well as some surprising new opportunities.

Luke Fraser, 21, and Vicky Tobianah, 20, have both worked with family businesses; Fraser for his family’s publishing company and Tobianah for her father’s wholesale company.

They say they both chose to work in their respective positions for the flexibility not typically found in student jobs, but they each had very different experiences.

There are some immediate concerns when it comes to the type of work experience a job with your family can offer.  Tobianah says, “I don’t feel like I can put it on a resumé because I think future employers would not consider it a real job if I worked for a family company.”

Fraser’s perspective is quite different; he says he considers his experience a benefit to any future career outside of his family business.  “The built in trust I’m afforded … has led to more engaging projects and responsibilities that a normal university student might not be afforded.”

The key to the usefulness of a family job is directly related to your future career.  As one career counsellor describes it, as long as your experience is relevant, you should make sure to include it on your resumé.  Any experience will invariably look better than a blank space!

Aside from work experience, a job with your family’s business is a position you may actually enjoy.  Fraser says, “[It] has opened my eyes to a career path that I hadn’t really given too much thought … If I can continue to add value to our organization, it’s a career path that I will give more consideration in the coming years.”

Although she was not won over herself, Tobianah also says that “even if working in the family business is not my passion, I would still be proud to work in the business my family started 40 years ago.”

Not everyone has the opportunity to work for a family business, or maybe even a business in which your parents have enough sway to get you an easy job.  It may not be your choice for a career, but if there’s a position to gain experience with certain skills you would need in that career of your own, there’s no shame in taking advantage of that opportunity.

Don’t be afraid to take that job in your family’s business and put on your resumé with pride.  You may even find that job could offer a host of new opportunities on its own.

About the author

José Gonzalez is currently studying English and psychology at the University of Toronto. He's tried his hand at a wide variety of jobs, from pizza maker to autism therapist, but so far he hasn't figured out his exact niche. He figures as long as he's making a positive difference in someone's life, whichever path he goes down is a good one.