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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

The domineering parent reaches a new high

The common practice of bring-your-kid-to-work-day has been turned on its head. Parents of the Millennial Generation are following their children, many new college graduates, to the workplace.

Findings from a survey released earlier this month by Michigan State University entitled “Parent Involvement in the College Recruiting Process: To What Extent?” show this trend continuing. Surveyors contacted over 700 employers specifically interested in college graduates. One-third affirmed having received resumes sent by parents and not the graduates themselves. Out of the one-third, certain employers acknowledged some were sent without the son or daughter’s knowledge whatsoever.

One-quarter or the respondents claimed they heard from parents encouraging the employer to choose their child for the position. While four percent of those surveyed said that a father or mother accompanied their child to the interview. They have been dubbed “helicopter parents” and make parental lobbying seem like a full-time operation.

In the research brief for the survey, Professor Phil Gardner, director of research for the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State, explained the reasoning behind the study’s creation.

“In an effort to move away from anecdotal stories, we probed employers who responded to Michigan State University’s 2006-07 recruiting survey about the extent of parental involvement and the activities parents are likely to engage in,” he said.

Amy Maingault, a quality training manager for the Society for Human Resource Management’s HR Knowledge Center, witnessed the “helicopter parent” firsthand. She was charged with interviewing potential employees while working in a restaurant. A young candidate arrived with her father; he advocated her reliability and said that he would personally drive her to work every day to ensure her perfect attendance.

Although the employee was brought to her work, she would leave or skip shifts. Once fired for such issues, her father demanded to know the cause of termination, not able to understand that the place of work regarded such matters as confidential.

“I can’t speak for all HR departments, but I know that I personally found myself avoiding candidates who were unable to complete the selection and hiring process without parental involvement,” Maingault said. “And my impression is that many HR departments find interactions with parents to be a barrier to effective and efficient accomplishment of their goal to swiftly attain talented, motivated workers.”

Subhash Risbud, Blacutt-Underwood distinguished professor of engineering and director of the UC Davis Internship and Career Center, said that although quite aware of the “helicopter parent” phenomena, the extent to which it appears on the Davis campus is limited.

The trend, said Professor Risbud, is definitely recent. Throughout his 36 years in academia, spanning campuses from Lehigh University, to University of Arizona, to Stanford University, Professor Risbud explained that it was only within the last six or so years he began noticing the development.

“One speculation is intense competition everywhere — to get in school, get a job, make money,” Risbud said. “Also, parents these days seem to tie their social status to the success of their kids.”

Maingault believes the phenomena is mainly negative.

“It can indicate that the worker has little initiative, or an ability to operate independently,” she said. “Managers are not going to hold employee’s hands past the training state so it’s concerning to be unsure of a candidate’s ability to perform effectively independently.”

Nonetheless, Professor Risbud has seen instances in which parents highly involved in their child’s life have been essential for certain cases in which a student is unable or unwilling to make any academic or professional progression.

“My limited data set tells me that adamant parents mean well so the negative view is by no means universal,” Risbud said.

KELLEY REES can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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