I loved Ryan’s post about helicopter parents because, like many changes generation Y brings to the workplace, helicopter parents force me to see how much the dynamics of the workplace have changed and how what’s appropriate at work today is different than what was appropriate only two or three years ago.
The hardest parts about writing about generation Y is seeing all the benefits they have that I didn’t have. As a member of generation X, I graduated from college into such a bad market that we invented the word McJob. Now we never use that word because there is no reason for a young person to take a bad job –the job market for young people is better than it has ever been, maybe in the history of jobs.
This means that young people are in a position to negotiate for non-salaried benefits that would have been unthinkable to young people in other generations — extra vacation, tuition reimbursements, telecommuting. In earlier generations, if young people negotiated hard in entry level jobs, they would have been shown the door. Today, companies are so desperate to keep top young talent that almost anything is open for negotiation.
I know from my own experience that senior executives regularly use lawyers to negotiate their pay packages because non-salary perks are so difficult to negotiate. On top of that, if you use a lawyer to negotiate then you avoid starting out your job in a contentious way with your future co-workers. Today young people need this same benefit because they also are negotiating for a wide range of non-salary perks.
Young people can’t afford lawyers, and would, under other circumstances have to have a contentious negotiation over non-salary perks before starting work. But with parents providing a negotiating agent for the lower ranks, the workplace is more fair, less rankist, and that should make everyone happy.
Additionally, the fact that parents are meddling in interviews also strikes me as not so bad. (And, by the way, I am not alone — many companies, and colleges, allow this to go on without holding it against the candidate.)
The very rich, very well connected people have been shepherding their kids through their first jobs forever. The dad calls his friend and his friend calls a friend and one friend does the coaching and the other friend does the hiring and then it starts all over again. With a golf game or two thrown in.
The not-as-very-rich (but still rich) hire branding consultants who specialize in recent grads, and the consultants do practice interviews for five or ten hours at $200 an hour.
Helicopter parents simply bring these rich-kid practices out into the open and into the ranks of the middle class. Seems like a great turn of events to me.
When rich kids get benefits from their parents stepping in and getting things for them in adult life, we never complain about independence. We complain about other things, like unfair benefits of being rich. But, for example, when Donald Trump hired his daughter Ivanka Trump (without even making her attempt an interview!) I don’t remember uproar over independence.
So maybe a closer look at the hoop-la over helicopter parents reveals simmering rankism and classism issues underneath.