43 Percent of Adults Report Living Out Their Childhood Dream Jobs

September 21, 2021 | Nearly half of adults say they are living out their childhood dream jobs, according to new research commissioned by The Genius of Play and conducted by OnePoll. In the survey of 2,000 adults in the U.S. with children ages 3–14, a third of respondents revealed that how they played as kids impacted the careers they pursued later in life, with the average deciding on their dream job by age 7 and landing that job by age 23.

“‘Fake it till you make it!’ might be a common expression in the real working world, but this new research proves that there is a true benefit to roleplaying the job you want — especially as a child,” said Anna Yudina, senior director of marketing initiatives at The Toy Association.

The survey looked at factors that influenced career paths. Thirty-two percent of adults reported the toys they played with as a child influenced their careers. Other factors included the activities (sports, clubs, etc.) they participated in (50%), the media they consumed (40%), the careers of their parents (34%), and the influence of friends and siblings (21%).

In addition, most employed adults reported implementing many of the soft skills they learned through play as kids in their daily jobs today. These skills include:

  • Creativity (56%)
  • Teamwork (50%)
  • Problem-solving (42%)
  • Empathy (41%)
  • Communication (39%)

Many respondents also reported carrying over their childhood hobbies into adulthood. From drawing to music to writing, science, and more, the results emphasize that play continues to be a powerful tool at any age.

Eighty-six percent of those surveyed are now encouraging their own kids to play with toys to learn valuable skills they, too, could use as adults. The majority of those surveyed reported frequently encouraging their child to play with toys that would enrich their learning, which many also hoped would inspire future careers in specific fields such as the sciences, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.

“The ability to explore different interests and careers through playtime is what being a kid is all about,” said Yudina. “With 87 percent of respondents saying playtime as a child taught them skills that helped them succeed in their careers as adults, it only makes sense they would want to inspire their own kids to enjoy similar experiences. And whether a child makes the leap from roleplaying as a doctor to becoming one at the end of the day isn’t what matters; what ultimately matters is that they are having fun in the process!”