Doctor, Lawyer… Influencer? Why Latino Families Are Hesitant Of Creative Careers
The days of children wanting to be a doctor or an astronaut when they grow up are slowly dwindling. One of today’s most sought-after careers for teenagers is “social media influencer.” Curiously enough, over 1 in 4 Gen Z-ers plan on becoming one, according to a study by Higher Visibility.
However, similar to many other career paths, the content creator landscape is not as diverse as it could be.
When you look at the top influencers across different social media platforms, they’re pretty similar. Forbes recently noted the untapped promise of Latina influencers in particular. It’s notable because Latinos are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country. It’s still an open market, and TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube are their best bets for success.
According to research from the Collage Group, Latinos are more likely to use newer platforms like TikTok and social media to find community. They welcome it to their home through their screens, but somehow it’s another story when their child is creating it themselves.
Finding an “acceptable” career
“I think my family still struggles with understanding it to this day,” says content creator Sharon Cancio to mitú. “It’s an entirely new world to them that they don’t really understand because the career and terms are foreign to them.”
Cancio, known to her audience as “Just Sharon,” is a Cuban-American influencer who got her start on YouTube when she was 14 years old. Now, at 24, she averages over 730,000 followers across all her social media platforms, creating content about women’s health and lifestyle.
Creative careers are not very common in Latinx families, especially immigrant ones. Taking the chance to come to a new country also comes with the hope you will succeed there. By extension, that includes children of immigrants, who are always encouraged to study hard in school, go to college, and get a good job.
When it comes time for them to start thinking about the kinds of careers they want to pursue, there is added pressure of getting something with high pay, stability, and — let’s be real — something their parents can brag about to extended family mounts. And those three factors rarely lead to a creative job.
The desire to make your family proud but also pursue a career you’re passionate about is being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not to mention, Latinx parents will certainly make their opinions known as you try to figure it out.
The worth of a college degree
An unspoken cultural characteristic within some Latinx families is “familismo,” where family is prioritized over personal interests.
“Familismo is, at its root, a collectivist culture value, one that may seem out of place in immigrant Latinx families, where a strong focus is placed on the need for the individual to succeed,” writes Sheila Garcia for the University of Michigan Library blog. “But familismo takes that individual success a step farther — if an individual succeeds, the entire family will benefit from their success, not just the individual themselves.”
To Garcia’s point, it’s one of the reasons why a first-generation student earning a college degree is a source of familial pride. It’s the foundation for most white-collar jobs and usually comes with everything parents desire for their kids.
Some parents might try to steer their kids away from artistic careers, even when they know they’re flourishing at it. A 2021 study from Joblist states that their parents strongly influenced 48% of people’s career paths; that includes 52.1% of Gen Z.
Cancio’s parents had traditional careers as accountants in Cuba, and she admits they still try to sway her into a career path they consider more stable. She attended the University of South Florida as her online audience grew and earned her degree in mass communications with a focus on public relations and a minor in communications.
“Graduating from university was the one thing my parents always wanted for me,” said Cancio. “Not attending was never really something I considered, nor did I really think it was an option, to begin with.”
Choosing between passion and stability
That degree gives Cancio comfort in case the “doomsday what-ifs” about the end of social media ever come knocking.
“Some months are better than others, whether you have more views in one month or more brand deals than the next,” said Cancio. “So, I get why they lean towards a steady, classic job, but it’s just not my jam. And I think they’re slowly coming to terms with it.”
Throughout her ten years of influencing, she has had to adapt to the algorithm’s many changes. Cancio used to post to her channel once or twice a week. Now, influencers are expected to post daily to stay relevant.
Working in social media or any other creative field is not for the faint of heart. It takes years to develop a distinctive voice, influencing style and following. The potential of high earnings, free products, and travel opportunities is intriguing.
Cancio enjoys having full control over her career as an influencer; she’s her own boss and works whenever she pleases. Plus, there’s the satisfaction of turning her hobby into her livelihood.
For those budding influencers out there, Cancio says to go for it and not give up.
“Don’t be afraid or embarrassed,” says Cancio. “I definitely look back at my old YouTube videos from when I was 14 and cringe a little. That’s normal and expected. If your videos don’t do great at first, that’s okay; you try again. And again. And again, until you find something that sticks!”