The Influence of Family Background on Career Choice among Undergraduate Students in Tanzania

Jacqueline Amani, Kitila A. K. Mkumbo


Several factors influence career decision-making among young people in different contexts. This study qualitatively investigated how family background factors influence career decision-making by university students. The participants involved undergraduate students drawn from four universities enrolled in four degree programmes, leading to specific professions, namely, education, law, business and engineering. Eighty-eight students participated in a series of focus group discussions on how they came to choose the programmes they were studying and how their family background influenced their choice. Data were analysed using the thematic approach. The results show that the family played a significant role in undergraduate students’ choice of careers. The influence was particularly significant in families with a higher level of education beginning at secondary school. Generally, students tend to choose professions similar to those of their parents. The results also show that the influence of biological parents on career decision-making was more pronounced than that of their relatives. Consistent with the findings of previous studies in different contexts, the study concludes that family background plays a major role in influencing young people to choose a certain career.  


Key terms: Family background, Career choice, University students, Tanzania

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