As citizens of Generation Y – or The Millennials, if you prefer the title more akin to a sixties-era pop quartet – you are victims of the term “helicopter parents.” Rather, your parents are the victims. To quote the almighty Wikipedia, “Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not.” Even if this stereotype is potentially appropriate in some cases, the term is overused to explain all kinds of issues with the entry-level workforce.
In my adventures in campus recruiting here at Protiviti, I have observed the way that parents impact a candidate’s decision. More often than not, the effects are positive – a candidate may have chosen her school because it is her father’s alma mater, or developed an interest in consulting because she travels often with her family. When I get detailed inquiries about healthcare or 401(k) programs, I know that those questions were likely raised by a parent who has the perspective to know the value of such benefits. However, despite these observations, I have yet to encounter a zealous parent at a career fair or an angry phone call from Mom after a performance review.
As a founding member of the Millennials, I have had many of my own helicopter-esque moments. One, for example, occurred last week, when my dad took a bus to Chicago so that he could drive back home with me to Cleveland a day later. His sole interest was in getting me home safely… and spending some extra time together as a bonus. It is this kind of interest that makes a parent a unique influence on a candidate’s decisions – and one that is too precious to be ignored.