Parents now help their kids find work

Courtney Kerrigan

The term “helicopter parents” brings to mind a stereotype: parents who hover, control and attach themselves to every aspect of their children’s lives.

But when college is thrown into the picture, parents seem to cling even more to their kids — especially when it comes to jobs.

Kelley Stillwagon, career counselor in Career Services, said she hears a lot about parents who push their college students to get jobs and have even applied for jobs for their children.

“When they hear about a possible job, they send their child’s résumé,” she said. “Now with computers, it’s so easy to do because they might have a copy of their son’s or daughter’s résumé and they can just hit send.”

Stillwagon said this is mainly because of two things — the first being that parents have been “driving the car” since their children were in kindergarten, and it is hard to step back when they have been pushing their children for so long.

The second comes from the fact that college is a huge expense, and parents want their kids to be able to get jobs when they graduate, especially since they hear about other students who have no luck in finding jobs.

“If you look at the 18- to 20-year-old students, when their parents were job searching and working at that age, it was much easier to find a job,” Stillwagon said.

“Parents today feel like their children should be doing the same thing, and they don’t realize that job searching is totally different today than it was for them.”

Pizza Hut manager Brittany, who refused to give her last name, said she has never had parents apply for a job for their children, but said she’s had parents call inquiring about a job.

“I think it’s really unprofessional,” she said. “The student needs to be calling and asking, not the parent.”

Stillwagon said it’s good that parents are involved in their kids’ lives, but there’s a fine line that parents shouldn’t cross.

“You can be supportive from behind the scenes, but when you’re calling the employers, that crosses the line,” she said. “They have to remember that they can’t be in the driver’s seat — when the students go to college, they have to be the ones driving the car.”

Sophomore fashion merchandising major Jasmine Lattaker has never heard of parents applying for jobs in place of their children, or even calling an employer to inquire about a job.

“I really don’t think that’s helping their kid get a job,” Lattaker said. “Part of getting a job is responsibility and growing up, and if the parents are doing that, then the kids are losing the experience there.”

Stillwagon said, in this generation, many students are not very motivated and have less of a work ethic if their parents constantly do everything for them.

“They don’t want to do the same amount of work because they’re spoiled by computers,” she said. “I think they can work just as hard, but it’s different working because they can multitask now.”

She explained another problem that may cause overbearing parents is that alumni have been laid off and are now taking jobs that recent college graduates are applying for. This then forces college graduates to apply for jobs that students are applying for, and the cycle continues down through high school.

“So everyone’s taking someone else’s job, and this is the first year where I’ve seen so many students say ‘I can’t find a job,’” Stillwagon said. “You have to be assertive and go out there and think in creative ways to get a job.”

Contact student finance reporter Courtney Kerrigan at [email protected].