Does Your Company Have a Bring Your Parent to Work Day?

Google and LinkedIn do. It's either bold and progressive, or the illogical extreme of helicopter parenting.

Lest you think that “helicopter parenting” is an American thing, know this: a French woman was just charged with fraud for taking the Baccalaureate test while impersonating her daughter. Her daughter may be banned from taking the test for the next five years.

I am considering adding this, from a professor in Taipei, as the top page of my syllabi at Drexel: “For those who refuse to grow into adults, you can go back to high school, elementary school or kindergarten. You are not welcome in my class, if you are a pampered child. I don’t want you to take my course.”

It’s a perfect storm of trouble:  Over-controlling parents have created entitled students during a time when attribution rules are changing and blurring. Today’s high schoolers and college-aged students grew up sharing everything, and shrug their shoulders over false online personas. Who attributes a meme, Vine, GIF or Facebook post? Things have gotten so bad, some universities, like MIT have even hired private investigators to verify student claims on admission applications.

According to a recent This American Life show, parents are feigning that they are their children trying to get into college, calling schools and posing as their own kids, making sure to load their conversation with “cool” and “awesome.” One mom sent her kid an e-mail bribing him $20 to write an admissions office—and then inadvertently sent the e-mail to the admissions office.

Schools receive redundant application after redundant application, with cover letters that often name the wrong school. Multi-purpose and purchased admission essays have increased so much that Turnitin, the long-running plagiarism dictator, has added admission applications to its database.

One could argue that the schools are tempting this repetition through clichéd “bad” questions. As Ira Glass said, “Parents and kids are being as generic to schools as schools are to students.” How many ways can a student (or parent) write about “a time you felt challenged?” How many times can a student address a school’s mission statement when they are peppered with such vagaries as “principled leadership?” I mean, what does that mean?

We’re bemoaning the sheltered adult child and yet continuing the momentum:  Parents are becoming common fixtures at some U.S. companies, with employers going out of their way to include them in everything from meet-and-greets to job interviews in a bid to attract and hold onto millennials.

The Wall Street Journal reported that companies balked at parental involvement a decade ago, and now engage their new employees’s and prospective employees’s parents. For example, Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual not only holds regular open houses, it also lets parents come along to interviews and hear details of job offers. Sometimes, management even visits parents at home.

The monolith Google is another company that welcomes parents. Earlier this year, they hosted 2,000-plus parents at its headquarters for its second annual “Take Your Parents to Work Day.” LinkedIn is reportedly going to host a similar event in November at its offices in 14 countries, and is compiling a “how to” guide for other companies. It’s interesting, though not surprising I guess, to note that both these companies are relatively new, and huge.

A Michigan State University study found 31 percent of the more than 700 employers surveyed said parents had submitted resumes on their child’s behalf. One quarter reported receiving phone calls from parents attempting to convince them to hire their children. Four percent said a parent accompanied their kid to the job interview, though an Adecco survey says the number is double that at 8 percent. Should we be psyched that only 3 percent of college graduates had their parents with them on job try-out days?

Nepotism has always been around and about 13 percent of recent college graduates said they got a job through a parental connection, according to the Adecco survey. That figure doesn’t cause me as much concern as parents looking over benefits packages and receiving their own “welcome” package when their young adult child gets hired. No one wears aprons anymore (do they?) but the wireless generation seems more tethered than ever.