I was probably someone you hated in high school. I wasn’t just a cheerleader; I bullied my way into the captain job as a junior, over two seniors with more experience but gentler personalities. I ruled our squad like Hitler in a miniskirt. Under my command, what started as a roundly mocked troupe of Aquanetted, Maybellined moppets won two All Far East championships—a first in any sport for our tiny international school.
Years later, that skill set, such as it was, carried over into one of my first real-world jobs. At 23 I bullied my way into a job as the editor in chief of a ragtag group of New York newspapers—the kind you pick up for free in a diner or bank lobby, the kind you spread on a bench so you don’t have to sit on bird poo, the kind held together editorially by string and a wad of chewing gum. Lacking experience but not insane confidence, I ruled over a half-asleep newsroom of seven and a stringy staff of scarily untalented freelancers. We won absolutely no awards of any kind, unless you count survival: the newspapers still somehow exist, and some of us who worked there have since cobbled together somewhat credible journalistic careers.
It’s no news to me that the roles we play in high school echo in our careers. But a new survey published yesterday by Harris Interactive from CareerBuilder.com found in a poll of 6,000 full-time workers ages 30 and up that the roles we played in high school shape who we become—and in some surprising ways. Four in 10 said who we were back then influenced their very choice of job. Some results, based on your high-school self:
If you were a cheerleader, you’re more likely to be…
• vice president.
• in travel or insurance.
• satisfied with your job.
If you were in student government, you’re more likely to be…
• director/manager/team leader.
• earning a six-figure salary; 12% say they are paid an annual salary of $100,000 or more.
If you were a teacher’s pet, you’re more likely to be…
• an administrative/clerical worker.
If you were a jock, you’re more likely to be…
• a professional.
• in the transportation field.
• earning an annual salary of $50,000 or more.
• satisfied with your career progress.
If you were a geek, you’re more likely to be…
• in technology.
• dissatisfied with your job.
If you were in drama club, you’re more likely to be…
• in healthcare, public administration or government.
So what were you? And what did that make you today?