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Geek, jock or class clown?

  • Story Highlights
  • Cheerleaders are more likely to be in a vice president position than others
  • Athletes were drawn to careers in transportation
  • Drama club members were highest in public administration/government
  • 12 percent of former student government members earn more than $100,000
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By Rachel Zupek
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Who you were in high school could affect your chosen career.

Who you were in high school could affect your chosen career.

Looking back on high school, some peoples' memories are fonder than others.

Unfortunately for many teenagers, in the young, harsh minds of high schoolers, you're nothing without your social status.

Consider the stereotypes. For example, if you were a popular cheerleader who was friends with everyone or a jock who captained every sporting team in school, your memories of those four years are probably glittered with parties, dates and crowns from school dances.

But, take the geek who kept to himself, except when helping others do their homework, or a self-proclaimed "teacher's pet," who spent her days helping teachers grade papers, and their memories are better aligned with being stuffed in lockers or having their heads dunked in a toilet.

Luckily for most of us, any reputation that existed in high school was left in the dust when we went to college. (Or so we thought.) Little did we know that X number of years later our high school status would affect our chosen careers. asked over 6,000 full-time workers to categorize their high school personas in one of the following groups: student government, athlete, geek, honor society, cheerleader, drama club, teacher's pet or class clown. These personalities were then compared to job level, salary, industry and job satisfaction.

"Thirty-nine percent of workers age 30 and older said their high school experience had an influence on the job they hold today," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at "While there are a variety of factors that determine one's career path, high school involves learning experiences inside and outside the classroom that can shape interests and personal networks at an early age. It's essentially a stepping stone into a world of opportunity."

So what was your status in high school? Read on to see if your persona matches the career you hold today.

Job level

If you used to yell from the sidelines, chances are you're yelling at (or cheering for) employees from your corner office. Cheerleaders were more likely to hold a vice president role than any other persona, according to the survey.

Twenty-four percent of those who were a teacher's pet or in student government serve in director/manager/team lead positions. Former honor society members, athletes and geeks mostly hold professional and technical services positions at 59 percent, 55 percent and 52 percent, respectively.


Drama club and honor society members seemed to have more workers drawn into the health-care community; drama clubs was also ranked as one of the highest among personalities in public administration/government.

While a large number of those in student government now hold jobs in education, a greater number of cheerleaders reported going into the travel and insurance industries than other personas. More geeks reported holding jobs in engineering and retail, and teacher's pets were ranked as one of the highest groups in construction and banking and finance.

Athletes were drawn to careers in transportation and class clowns seem more likely than others to pursue the manufacturing industry.


The survey suggests that brown-nosing didn't get teacher's pets as far with their bosses as it did with their teachers. Thirty-seven percent of this persona reported earning less than $35,000 annually.

On the other end, 12 percent of former student government members are paid more than $100,000 per year. An additional 10 percent of honor society members and 7 percent of athletes, geeks and class clowns, also make a six-figure salary.

Forty-seven percent of honor society members earn $50,000 or more, and an additional 49 percent of student government personas earn the same salary.

Job and satisfaction

Happiness seems to be a common denominator in most cheerleaders, so it's no surprise that they are the second most satisfied group when it comes to their jobs. Seventy-six percent of cheerleaders are happy in their current jobs, behind 81 percent of teacher's pets.

Geeks and class clowns were the most dissatisfied with their jobs, at 21 percent and 18 percent.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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