Part IV: What your role is and what your child’s role is.
I have taken you on a journey from understanding the larger picture of how the marketplace has changed to showing you how employment opportunities are so valuable for your child’s future success and how to get started.
The time has come to bring it all together and begin the act of reaching out to those prospective employers to find summer employment whether it is a paid job, interning or volunteering.
Before you dive into action, it is important to understand the difference between your role and your child’s role. Your role as the parent is now to step aside and allow your child to take full responsibility for their choices, actions and outcome. The job is for her so she must be the one to do this part. You can encourage, support and open doors for her as a helpful guide, but let her own her actions.
This is where you can still help in your role as a guide:
a) Connections: Help your child identify an industry or company in your local area that interests her. Do you or your spouse know someone in this industry or company? Do you know others who may have a connection? Your only role here is to set up the introduction and let her do the rest. It is then up to your child to connect with this person through phone or email and begin the process of sending her resume, following up, setting up a time to sit down, share her stories and competencies, and go for the job/intern and/or volunteer position.
Your child will garnish more respect from a prospective employer by doing this part. Your child is demonstrating tenacity and perseverance and maybe even innovation and creativity. The days of calling someone up and ‘asking’ them to hire your child have pretty much come to an end. Even if your connection does hire your child, your child will have to prove herself. In fact, you may be creating a situation where your child is not taken seriously because she ‘got’ the job with no merit.
For my first job my friend’s father did open the door for me for a one-month contract in another part of the company. However, I knew that I needed to prove myself and apply for this job based on my work and value. I was able to take that one-month contract and turn it into four years.
b) Informational Interview: If no one you know has connections for an industry or company, have your child call the company of her desire and ask for a senior person in the area of her interest to ask for a 15-minute informational interview. This may take a few attempts. To get to the right person your child will need to speak to the operator or executive administrator to get the correct name and contact info for that person. The executive assistant can end up being very helpful and assist you by getting you in the door.
As I said, advise your child to be patient, this may take a few attempts. Like creating your stories, you will want to sit with your child and help her come up with a clear and concise reason for her call.
“ Hello, my name is …. I am calling because I am currently a student and I am interested in XX area of work. I see that your organization is quite successful in this area and I would like the opportunity to sit down with the VP (find the most senior level and in the specific area of a company/organization) to ask some questions about your industry and company to find out more about it. I also want to understand what requirements I will need to enter this industry and ultimately get a job.”
This is NOT a job interview. It is only for the purposes of seeking information about how to progress in the career of interest. HOWEVER, you never know where this can lead: a summer job, intern position or volunteer opportunity. Employers appreciate those that are curious, risk-takers and stand out from the crowd.
From the informational conversation, your child may find that the person on the other end really likes her personality and tenacity and may offer to help. Your child can begin to develop a mentor/mentee relationship and this person can end up guiding them throughout their career.
The key to success is going in prepared. Help your child create a list of intelligent questions. Let her know to be professional both in dress and speech and to respect this person’s time. The most important piece of advice I can give is to advise your child to listen more, talk less! Tell her to ask the person if she can take notes. Help her be prepared to answer questions such as, “What interests you about this area of work or the company?” Help her research the company and know their mission, vision and goals (most companies have a lot of information available on their website). It is important in your role as a guide to help your child be prepared for an interview like this. You can even run through a few practice sessions with her to get her nerves out.
At the end your child will want to thank this person. I suggest sending a hand-written thank you note as emails get deleted, lost or go into spam – not to mention it will make the person feel special and appreciate the gesture more than an email. This will also help your child leave her mark on this valuable new connection. Before your child leaves or hangs up, have her ask if she can stay in touch. This will leave the door open. Your child can also say that she was very impressed with the information and would like the opportunity to work there in the summer. This person may not know the availabilities however they can certainly guide your child to the right person/department.
Now your child has a senior name to work with.
Try this several times to build a strong network and to really understand different industries and career paths. At this stage, your child should not be focusing on the dollar value of the job or the fancy titles. For the first years, your child should focus on understanding what she likes and what she dislikes. Where does she have a strong passion? When does she find herself being excited by tasks and when does she lack interest in them? Understanding herself and her interests better at an earlier age will help her narrow down her options and be confident in her decision to follow a certain career path. She will feel less “lost” and overwhelmed at the end of her schooling than her peers since she will have all of the mentors and experience under her belt.
This concludes this four-part series. I have given you tips and tools to assist you in guiding and helping your child find summer employment. I always recommend, take what resonates and leave the rest. Remember to encourage your child to make her own decisions, to choose her own path. If one child wants to go the 4-year college route, another may choose to go the apprenticeship route – that’s fine! Every individual is different; their paths should be as well. Encourage your child to follow her intuition and what makes sense for her. Remind her to be tenacious. Good luck!
ABOUT SANDRA FINKELSTEIN
Sandra Finkelstein is an author, youth advocate and empowerment consultant. Her book, We're Not Gonna Take It is a resource book geared to the millennial youth to give them, their parents and youth workers the tools and resources to assist in their decision-making process and provide the foundation for their success in this market. She is currently working with companies on intergenerational relationships (motivation and engagement strategies that bridge the gap between different age groups to create a cohesive and engaged work environment).