I'll Help Your Kids, You Help Mine...

All right, I admit it. Even though my sons are only 7 1/2 and nearly 9, I’ve already thought a little about how I might use my professional networks to help them when they’re ready for the job market--a topic that Sue Shellenbarger so artfully covered in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Helicopter Parents go to Work: Moms and Dads are now Hovering at the Office.”

In her article she writes: “In many ways, parents are continuing the intense oversight this generation has been known all along: challenging poor grades; negotiating with coaches and helping kids register for college.”

Many friends with college-age kids have asked me to step up to plate on behalf of their children by writing a college or character recommendation, inquiring about internships at the magazine or making a call to former colleagues who now work elsewhere. I’m happy to do it. I live by the motto, what goes around comes around. But, I’ve also begun to think that those college-age kids I help today might in a position to help my child in 12-15 years.

When I think back on my college and career path, I had virtually no contacts or connections. I came from the Midwest, went to college in the Midwest and then landed in Washington, D.C. without many friends or family. At one of my first interviews for a position as an economic analyst at a private consulting firm, I was told the job had been filled by the person who had interviewed before me. I requested to see the principal anyway—and after we chatted for 30 minutes, he hired me too. I can't tell you how good it felt to do it on my own.

But the world has changed a lot in 25 years since I entered the work force, and will certainly change much more by the time my boys gear up for their first job. Maybe it is a lot harder to land that first job than it was years ago. I know the best thing I can do now is to be a good role model and raise them to be independently minded and motivated to follow their dreams. But truth be told, I’ll still probably keep close tabs on my networks.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE