Young people may be graduating into an epically crappy job market, but in one way they’re lucky. Like never before, our generation has a vast array of career information and resources at our disposal. Thanks to the internet and other tech tools, we’re no longer limited to college career centers, family friends and dog-eared guides from the library.
But that doesn’t mean we’re putting all that online knowledge and advice to use. A new survey from Millennial Branding, a Gen Y consulting firm, and StudentAdvisor.com polled 200 young people across the country about how they’re preparing for their careers and seeking out mentoring. And forget high-tech; it appears digital natives are mainly turning to the oldest source of advice out there – our parents.
More than a third of those with mentors said their parent is their mentor, while only 10 percent found a professional mentor through social networking.
Not to Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Millennial Branding. After all, this generation is known for its close relationship with it’s parents, a tight bond that sometimes borders on pathological “helicopter parenting.”
“Gen Y parents are very involved in their [children’s] lives and are sometimes called helicopter parents,” Schawbel told Brazen Careerist. “ I’ve even heard stories of parents coming to job interviews with them.”
The survey results then are just one more piece of evidence of the tight, collaborative nature of the relationship between many millennials and their folks, though no one can really argue that warm, supportive and trusting family relationships are something most of us want. (Though seriously, if your parents interact with potential employers directly, you’ve gone off the deep end of hyper-involved).
A Good Idea?
But just because it’s a great thing that you have a good relationship with your parents doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to rely so heavily on them for career mentoring. “If you rely on only your parents for career mentoring, then you aren’t getting all the perspectives and information needed in order to make a good decision,” says Schawbel. He suggests young people “use the internet to find mentors. Go on Amazon.com to find business authors in their field or search for them on LinkedIn and reach out.”
Other experts also question the relevance of parents’ well-meant-but-usually-slightly-out-of-date advice. Remember, when your parents were starting their working lives, the loyalty from job security model still held and globalization was barely getting started. That means parents often talk about fixed paths and risk-reduction strategies that are better suited to earlier times, when careers were more stable and demanded a less entrepreneurial approach, according to James Marshall Reilly, author of Shake the World: It’s Not About Finding a Job, It’s About Creating a Life.
Bad career advice from trusted adults, he told me earlier this year, “is a result of the increasing generation gap, and that in turn is a result of the rapid acceleration of technology. The generation gap is so large that we’re getting advice from our parents and our guidance counselors and our professors, and the advice isn’t ill-intentioned, but it’s not always right.”
“It might have been right five years ago. It might have been right ten years ago, but it’s not necessarily right now. When you look at who’s giving this advice, [they] aren’t as familiar with the resources and tools that we have now to learn and self-propel,” he says.
What do you think? Do you rely too heavily on mentoring from mom and dad?
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch and GigaOM, among others.