Workopolis: News Releases

What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

Workopolis talks to kids, teens and parents to find out their dream jobs -
Poll reveals 80 per cent of adults have abandoned their childhood dreams

Toronto, August 28, 2007 – It's the age-old question and one that many Canadian adults might want to ask themselves as the back-to-school season is upon us: what do you want to be when you grow up? For most, childhood dreams and ambitions haven't come true. According to the Workopolis "When I Grow Up" poll, 82 per cent of Canadian adults aren't doing what they dreamt of when they were younger.

While it's not hard to understand why fantasies about becoming a fairy princess or superhero went unfulfilled, many longed to be doctors and lawyers, yet are not living out these childhood dreams now that they have grown up. When asked what factors led to their current profession, four in ten (41 per cent) adult Canadians indicated that education/ training was the reason they chose their current career path, while the availability of the job was a factor for another 30 per cent. Perks and salary played less of a role in Canadians' decisions (15.5 per cent and 12 per cent respectively).

"As children, we're taught to think from the heart and live out our dreams. But at some point, reality takes over and we think only with our heads," said Patrick Sullivan, President of Workopolis. "Many of us need to stop and ask ourselves what we really want to be now that we are grown up. The ideal job should marry the raw enthusiasm we felt as children with the tangible rewards we want on the job as adults today ."

The Workopolis "When I Grow Up" poll surveyed: parents with kids between the ages of five and nine; teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19; and children aged five to nine. Adults were asked to share their dreams as children and teens, and while a majority of them are not doing what they once dreamed of, a healthy minority are. Thirteen per cent of adult Canadians are living out their teenage dreams and seven per cent said they pursued their current job because it was a childhood dream.  

Dream jobs through the generations
The more things change, the more things stay the same and according to the poll, the workforce of the future share similar aspirations as our current employed Canadians. Teachers, veterinarians and doctors rank in the top-five across all three generations polled.

These are the top five jobs mentioned by children, as well as those listed for teens and adults when asked to recall what they wanted to be at that age.




Children (aged 5-9)

Teens (aged 13-19)







Police officer








Veterinarian, firefighter, sports player (3-way tie)

Police officer



Musician/ singer

Professional athlete

Musician/ singer

"There is an amazing similarity between the dreams of kids and teens now and what adults recall of their dreams at that time," said Sullivan. "As such, there is good reason to expect that today's younger generations will allow similar factors to push their dream jobs onto the back-burner when they grow up. Parents have a significant role in helping their children see a wider scope of job opportunity."

As children, we are largely influenced by the role models around us, and as such, the professions we aspire to be at that age are typical of those we have direct contact with. Teachers are the first adult profession we have the opportunity to interact with up-close and personally on almost a daily basis; police officers and firefighters often visit kids at school; and children are reassured by a doctor who makes them feel better and has the answers to all of their parent's questions.

While these professions are common among all three generations polled, one occupation that finished in the top-ten for today's children exclusively was ‘soldier'; the result of the prominent role they play in our world today.

In addition to recalling their dreams from childhood, the teenaged group was also asked to identify jobs of interest to them now. And from this list, we can see that it is the teenage years that prove to be the transition from open-minded dreaming, to practical professions often related to higher pay and status such as lawyers and engineers.

The impact of television seems to play a role in broadening the list of dream jobs for teenagers. While cartoons no doubt influenced them to choose superheroes as youngsters, the introduction of makeover and reality shows have certainly left a mark too. Top professions mentioned by this age-group included entrepreneurs, personal trainers and interior designers – careers that weren't on the radar of today's adults at that age. F orensic scientists and environmental-focused positions were also popular choices with teens .

In their own words
Kids say it best and expressed very specific ideas for what they want to be when they grow up:

  • A fairy, a real one that can fly;
  • A pizza maker;
  • An Indy car driver or if I cannot be that I want to be a wrestler and if that doesn't work I want to be a NASCAR driver;
  • Barbie;
  • I want to work with sharks because I love them and think they are interesting;
  • A rock star;
  • A dirt bike racer;
  • Spiderman;
  • I don't know yet. Do I have to decide today?

Tips for determining your dream job

  1. Reassess. If you're not doing what you love, take some time to find out why. "If it's a lack of training, take a class during the evening. If the financial rewards of your current job lured you there in the first place, it may be that you're at a point in your life now where it's not all about the money," said Sullivan.
  2. Get creative. Look back at your dream job, explore what elements about it were so appealing and incorporate that into your present day. "If the thought of leaving your desk job to pursue an acting career terrifies you, try to weave in artistic elements into your current career or channelling that artistic energy into a new hobby," suggests Sullivan.
  3. Embrace your inner child . "Consider asking the children in your life what they want to be when they grow up – they might just give you some ideas!" said Sullivan.

"You never know when inspiration might hit so job seekers should continually keep their eyes open for new opportunities even if they are not considering an immediate change," said Sullivan. "For example, signing up for JobAlert emails on will notify you the moment one of our 60,000 relevant job opportunities become available."

About Workopolis
Workopolis is Canada 's largest and most popular Internet recruiting and job search solutions provider with over 3 million unique visitors monthly in Canada and twice as many job postings as the nearest competitor.

Workopolis provides a fully bilingual suite of award-winning applications, products and services to both large and small Canadian companies:

  •™, Canada's biggest job site—with the most jobs, visitors and employers of any Canadian job site plus, intuitive screening tools and powerful resumé database search tools help connect employers with the "best fit" candidates faster and more efficiently.
  •, Canada 's biggest job site for students and recent graduates
  • CorporateWorks™, Canada 's most implemented recruitment management solution. using the tools that power to power corporate career sites.

Workopolis is a partnership of Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. and Gesca Ltd., the newspaper publishing subsidiary of Power Corporation of Canada . Workopolis has offices in Vancouver , Calgary , Edmonton , Winnipeg , Guelph , Toronto , Ottawa , Montreal and Halifax .

Workopolis is the exclusive Official Supplier of Online Recruitment Services for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

About the poll: The " When I Grow Up" poll was conducted by Youthography between July 26th and July 31st, 2007 via a national online survey. Three different demographic groups were questioned:  
  1. 206 children (ages 5 to 9), with a margin of error of ± 6.8%, 19 times out of 20;
  2. 250 teens (ages 13 to 19), with a margin of error of ± 6.2%, 19 times out of 20 and;
  3. 206 parents of children ages 5 to 9, with a margin of error of ± 6.8%, 19 times out of 20.
For further information:
Amy Davidson/ Jill Anzarut
Environics Communications
416-969-2830/ 416-969-2708