🔁Family Tree Influences On Your Career

Are you stuck? Are you having trouble with an academic or career decision? Struggling with a career decision can be an indication of an internal conflict. Your family, friends and society are consciously and unconsciously sending you messages about careers and the future all the time. Creating a visual picture of these messages can help to uncover and better understand these messages. Have you heard of a Family Tree? A similar concept, a Career Genogram, is a great visual tool that has the potential to uncover patterns, influences, values and unconscious messages we have internalized and help us to see what might be holding us back from making tough academic and career decisions.

🔁Try it.

Families come in all formats and include a broad range of complex dynamics. Use the following basic instructions to create your Career Genogram and make notations where you find helpful.


  1. Do your best to include 3 generations of family members on your career genogram. Additionally if there are other important people who you feel influence your life, please feel free to include them.
  2. A circle indicates a female and a square indicates a malehttps://careerdesignstudio.buffalo.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/129/2021/12/Career-Genogram-basic-format-example.docx. Please choose a shape you prefer to represent transx/non-binary individuals in your life. Draw lines to connect individuals and make notations as needed.
  3. In the shape please write
    1. the person’s name,
    2. their relationship to you (mom, dad, uncle, aunt, brother, sister, sibling, etc)
    3. highest education attained (i.e. High School, Certificate, License, some college, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate, etc)
    4. Current Occupation and/or if they are currently a Student and area of study.
    5. One previous occupation
  4. See the example below for basic formatting.

Reflection & Exploration

  1. What themes or patterns do you observe in the genogram (educational, occupational, racial, socio-economic, religious, geographic, etc.)?
  2. What values/principles do you believe guided the career decisions of those on your genogram (financial gain, job prospects/portability, family, making a difference, etc)?
  3. Who is one person you want to emulate and one you do not on your genogram?
  4. How might this be helpful to your career decision making process?
  5. Consider scheduling an appointment with a Career Design Consultant to have a conversation about your career genogram and your reflections.



Gysbers, Heppner, M. J., & Johnston, J. A. (2014). Career counseling : holism, diversity, and strengths (Fourth edition.). American Counseling Association.


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