What’s a Parent to Do? Let Your Child go it Alone in the Workplace
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Realistic expectations. This seems to be a focal point of many discussions today involving Generation Y and millennials, specifically those entering the life of independent adulthood. These are twentysomethings who want a good paying job, and a great place to live – and all at once.
Today, many parents are involved in their adult child’s life more than ever. They don’t just help them pick a post-secondary school, but do the research for them, and even talk with academic advisers and individual instructors. Some take that to the next step, engaging career coaches to work with their adult child, or talking with friends who may be potential employers. They even scour job boards to find roles for their adult child to apply for.
While the parental care is understandable, none of this is helping anybody.
The world of work is a daunting, challenging place. Anyone who works knows it can be tough to get into, especially without experience. Today’s first-time job seekers are well educated; much more than their parents were before they were 30. Still, a decade of education alone will not necessarily land them a high profile, high paying job that comes knocking on your door – and, nor should it.
Anyone entering the workforce, no matter their level of formal education, should be prepared to go at it alone, and fight to be given a starting chance. Money and level of responsibility – especially at this stage of a young person’s career – is a secondary concern, if a concern at all. If parents want to help, providing contacts to the adult child is useful, but only if the adult child follows up and makes the initial call on their own. Career coaches and resume writers can help, but the adult-child-turned-job-seeker needs to get out there and find the job, or else those professional career support resources will net minimal results. Ultimately, the adult child can only be successful if they seek and secure the job themselves, and benefit from the boost in confidence that comes with starting one’s own career.
Over time, needs and wants have become more confused. What parents of adult children felt was a want, has turned into a need for the adult child, such as autonomy and responsibility, and the fast move up to the corner office. Although the work world has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, the way to navigate that world has not.
Moving forward, adult child job seekers need to keep expectations in check. Take each job as an opportunity to learn about the business and grow your career, regardless of the role. It may not be the role they ultimately want, but they can’t expect to land the ‘dream job’ straight away. Take advice and constructive criticism from others – process it rather than challenge it.
And parents need to step back – way back, and watch their adult child do exactly what they had to do – pound the pavement, look for leads, talk to people and be eternally thankful that someone, anyone, will give them their first break. Tools, other than encouragement and understanding, may help the adult child with how to find work. Expect the adult child to get confused and frustrated and feel alone. It builds strength and resilience – two extremely useful tools that they will need now, and throughout their career.
Eileen Dooley is vice-president of VF Career Management, a Canada wide, career transition firm. VFCareerManagement.com