am I wrong to refuse to hire coworkers’ kids as interns?

A reader writes:

I work for a small, family-owned company.  This summer, I’m in a position to hire a summer student – strictly for the department I work in, and I have been given complete reign in terms of how I conduct the hiring process, including the interview process.

Since the summer student in question will be directly answerable to me, I’ve decided to not hire any children of any coworkers in the office.  My reasons are to avoid any conflict of interests – especially from what I call the “mama bear” or “papa bear” syndrome.  For instance, if I give a perfectly legitimate task that the student just doesn’t want to do, will he or she run to the parent to get involved and pipe up on behalf of their child?  Or if I need to give a bad performance review (due to bad performance), will the parent once again get involved?  The last thing we want is the child of a coworker coming in with an “entitlement” attitude because they feels they can run to a parent the moment they feels the job’s too tough or if they feel too much is demanded from them.

Of course, this isn’t sitting well with some coworkers who want to get their children in for the summer.

Is my approach off base, or should I allow them to go through the interview and hiring process the same as anyone else – where the best candidate for the job wins out?

There are loads of reasons to prefer not to hire children of coworkers. In addition to the concerns you mentioned, there’s also the risk that your relationship with the parent may be affected if the intern doesn’t like you, or feels that you’re treating her in a way that’s unfair, or if you need to give critical feedback or even fire the intern or decline to give a positive reference in the future. Is that really not going to impact your relationship with their parent/your coworker?

It’s possible that the parent will be fantastic at maintaining a firewall between their relationship with you and whatever is going on between you and their kid, but that’s something that can be tough to know in advance, and it’s reasonable to simply not want to take on that risk. (These are all the same reasons that you might decline to hire a coworker’s spouse, too.)

I’d say this to coworkers who push you to reconsider: “I’m sure Jane is great. I’d just feel too awkward managing the child of a coworker though; I want to be able to be unbiased and to give candid feedback without worrying about my relationship with the parent.”

If the person insists that won’t be a problem and continues to push, you can add, “To be honest, this is an example of what makes me uncomfortable about it. I think it would be tough to have an intern’s parent here in the office advocating for them. I’m just not comfortable with it, but I hope she finds something great this summer.”

{ 255 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    You’re going to generate a ton of bad sentiment if the owner’s children are working there this summer.

    1. Cat*

      Yeah, this seems like a totally reasonable boundary but a hard one to draw at most family businesses.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it depends — if the whole culture of the place is “we hire employees’ kids; that’s just how we do it,” then yes. But if the owners do it but no one else does, I don’t think it’ll be such an outrage.

      1. plain_jane*

        Owner’s children got paid. Other interns were not.

        There was outrage in some parts, and resigned acceptance in others. Certainly a diminished opinion of the owners across the board.

    3. Green*

      I think people understand that the owners… own the business and can hire anyone they want.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        Agree… now if LW hired her own child, then yes, I could see how people would be understandably upset. The owner’s children however, different story.

      2. Cat*

        I’ve only worked at a family business briefly, and it was a poorly run one (and so unfair of me to judge as representative), but every time the subject comes up on AAM, I come to the conclusion again that I’m just fundamentally unsuited for it. Why are my hypothetical offspring less worthy than the hypothetical offspring of the hypothetical owners of the company I work for? Fuck that noise.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Well, for one thing, the owner’s children may inherit the business. And this work is training for them.

      3. A Bug!*

        I think there’s plenty of evidence in past blog entries here that no, there are lots of people who don’t understand that owners can give preferential treatment to their own children. I’m sure there have been at least a couple of letters from people who are unhappy that the owner’s relatives get a free pass on behavior that wouldn’t be tolerated in other employees.

        1. Artemesia*

          An owner who gives jobs to family? Well, it is a FAMILY business and everyone else should understand that the good jobs in the long run are going to go to family. (great reason to not work for a family business) But an owner who allows family members working there to be slackers is not only doing a disservice to the businesses future but fomenting resentment. I know that Boss is going to pass the business down to Sally eventually but if Sally is allowed to be a lousy employee, it will encourage everyone who can to move on asap.

          1. No Longer Passing By*

            Completely agree. I’m a co-owner in a family-owned business and desperately have been trying to figure out how to terminate my slacker relatives. Because, quite frankly, disciplinary discussions do not lead to improved behavior.

            For the love of everything that you hold dear, OP, try to stick closely to your guns

      4. Mike C.*

        There is a huge difference between what the owners can do and what non-family employees will find fair or acceptable.

    4. Mike C.*

      I should probably rephrase this as, “it will generate” rather than “you’re going to generate”. Such a hypothetical would be the fault of the owners, not you.

  2. A Dispatcher*

    It also sounds like you have a single open position and more than one parent who is hoping his or her child gets the spot, which could cause problems not only with the parents of the unselected children being upset with you, but also possibly upset with the parent of the selected intern, who is their coworker. Yet another issue you don’t want or need to deal with.

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I wonder if this problem also presents a nice opportunity to say something like, “I wouldn’t want to pick Sam’s kid over Diane’s, so I am sticking with unrelated intern candidates.”

      1. Lindsay J*

        This was exactly what I was thinking. An “I can only have one intern, and since I can’t choose everyone’s kid I feel it’s fairer to not choose anyone’s and give the opportunity to someone outside the company,” seems like a simple (and difficult to argue with) out.

    2. BRR*

      That is a great point. Any drama now pales in comparison to only picking one coworker’s child.

    3. themmases*

      This was exactly my reaction. Even if the dynamic between parent and child is great after hire (which doesn’t seem that likely if the parents are pushing for it already), OP is being put in the position of choosing between their coworkers’ kids. That is a terrible position to be in right there.

  3. jhhj*

    The really bright line is your friend. Even if someone’s kid is spectacular and that parent hasn’t talked to you at all about it so you feel safe that the parent won’t bug you during the summer, making one exception is going to bring up a waterfall of misery for you.

    I’m curious what you will do if people start pushing their nieces or nephews, or their best friend’s kid, etc.

      1. No Longer Passing By*

        This is exactly what I say to everyone in this situation. Very rarely has the resume (1) been in our field or (2) even demonstrated a person even remotely qualified for our most entry-level position.

  4. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I totally agree with the OP, but I’m confused.  Why do your coworkers know about your preference?  What motivated you to be so explicit to them about this?

    There’s nothing wrong with smiling, nodding, and saying that you’ll take the application under consideration then doing whatever you want with it.  If you say that the person who got hired was the best candidate for the job, then that’s the truth, right?  Because your coworkers won’t be aware of every little detail?

    I’m only saying this because literally EVERY job candidate I’ve interviewed who came through a higher up was a disaster in the interview process.  (It wasn’t so much entitlement but rather an overall lazy approach to the interview.)  I never said anything, because it was a higher up, but I just mentally crossed this candidate off the list and never said anything further.  

    In this case, saying nothing is one of the more ideal paths so that way no one gets huffy about it and you get the best candidate.

    1. Spiky Plant*

      I agree that this COULD work, but it’s a risky approach that could backfire. What if one of the co-workers’ kids is indeed the best candidate? Even if they’re not, OP might run the risk of, every time their intern messes up, a coworker smugly saying “If you’d just hired my kid, this wouldn’t have happened!” or “How on earth could you think that that guy is better than my Juan?!” It’s a case where the honest truth is a totally legitimate reason, and can be delivered tactfully, so I’d side with that before going into avoidance mode (though, certainly, this would vary depending on the culture of OP’s workplace).

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        Ooh, whether it went over well or not, I’d definitely put the kibosh on any parent pulling a hypothetical “If you’d just hired my Joffrey waaah!” Unless she can peer into the parallel universe where I did hire Joffrey (in which case, why would she or her child be working at my company and not some superstar quantum physics institution???), she cannot possibly know that her precious child would have performed better.

    2. hbc*

      I suspect that people who will take “I don’t want to hire coworkers’ kids” badly will react even worse to having their precious child rejected based on merit. Unfortunately, the people who understand the blanket ban are probably those who would be fine having their children work there.

      It might be fun to do a “Anyone who didn’t whine to me about my policy can have their kid in the running” announcement, but that only works for one summer.

      1. Zillah*

        I agree. I feel like the truth is a totally legitimate reason to not hire coworkers’ kids – particularly interns, IMO, who tend to be a little more immature because they’re still new to the workforce – so I’m not sure why you’d obfuscate it.

    3. Mabel*

      But why waste your and the candidates’ time if you know you’re not going to hire relatives of employees?

  5. MT*

    I have had only good experiences managing children of other co-workers. If the parent is a good worker, the children are forced to be good workers and not screw up the good name of their parent. I guess it depends on how you feel about their parents.

    1. MT*

      I have a summer worker now. She shows up every day, on time, and gets all of her work done. She would be mortified if something bad got back to her parents.

    2. jag*

      Same with me, for interns.

      The main problem with hiring relatives for interns is that can contribute to lack of diversity in the workplace – it’s another way insiders get a leg up.

      1. MT*

        There is nothing wrong with knowing the right people. And having people you work with daily give recommendations.

        1. Zillah*

          Agreed, but this isn’t a recommendation based on work experience. I’m not saying that makes it wrong, but it is different.

        2. Sue Wilson*

          Yeah, nothing wrong until you notice that a whole class of people never “knows” the right people.

          1. Shan*

            +1 I was finally able to find a job after 6 months of searching. I felt like I was definitely in the group that didn’t know the right people.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Right, this is the problem with hiring only from your own networks; it makes you a lot less likely to end up with a diverse workforce.

        3. jag*

          “There is nothing wrong with knowing the right people.”

          At a societal level, yes there is. As Sue put it, “nothing wrong until you notice that a whole class of people never “knows” the right people.”

      2. Joey*

        Eh, are you suggesting kids of parents who are better candidates shouldn’t get hired? Diverse hiring is about finding candidates that you might not reach otherwise but always hiring the best candidate. It’s not about searching for a minority to hire.

        1. jamlady*

          I think diversity in the sense of what people from different work cultures and maybe even professions can bring to the table.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t see anyone arguing diversity is the primary goal — just pointing out that considering only candidates you know will likely be diversity-limiting, which is worth caring about.

              1. mt*

                But not considering qualified candidates becuase they are in your network isnt right either.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  No, you should do both. But it’s also reasonable to say that you don’t want to hire spouses/children/significant others of current employees, for all the reasons described in the post.

                2. mt*

                  This spot is for an intern, how much time and energy should the company spend if they have qualified applicants. If this was a full time, then yes, but this is a part time 3 month gig.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Managing interns is a serious time investment. Assuming they have no problem getting other qualified applicants, there’s no reason not to hire those outside applicants.

              2. TootsNYC*

                And in terms of “diversity”–it doesn’t have to be that you’re aiming for racial or even social-class diversity. Maybe you’re looking for diversity of outlook and attitude.

    3. Jax*

      This. All of this.

      My summer jobs in college all came from companies that gave preferential hiring to family and it was a great experience for me. I worked midnight shift at Quaker State Oil bottling plant and it was hard and exhausting and my dad just said, “Welcome to the working world baby girl.” I worked hard and didn’t quit BECAUSE my dad and the rest of my family were watching how I worked, and I didn’t want to give him a bad reputation or screw up his work name. I also knew my job wasn’t guaranteed and if I couldn’t hack it, another employee’s relative would be happy for the opportunity.

      TL:DR – Employee children can also be hardworking and dependable, just like any other new hire.

      1. the gold digger*

        I had been noticing how many interns we have who are related to current employees (when I search for a name in email, I will get three of the same surname, with the titles for two of them being “intern”). At first, I thought, Great. Patronage and nepotism.

        Then I thought, Or perhaps the company considers it a employee benefit and a way to retain good people. If I were a parent, I would be really happy if my kid could get a decent summer job. And if he were working at the same place I worked, you better believe I would make sure he did nothing to sully my reputation!

        1. Jax*

          It was definitely an employee perk! I think it’s a great way a company can be Family Friendly beyond the baby years. Giving older kids a paycheck and real work experience is HUGE.

        2. Marzipan*

          There’s also sometimes a useful continuity in being able to hire back the same people over repeated summers. When I was in uni, I spent the vacations working at the university where my mother worked (as did my brother, and the children of a number of other staff members). Because we worked there for a number of consecutive summers, we could quickly be deployed to different areas and tasks and came with a lot of knowledge about the institution and its processes – like, I’d roll up in June and they’d go ‘great, Marzipan’s back, she can be course administrator for all the engineering degrees for the next three months’ or whatever, and I’d slot straight in without them needing to tell me about that. One summer the only person who knew how to work the switchboard was one of us!

          We never would have dreamed of involving our staff parents in anything work related, and they wouldn’t have dreamed of getting involved in what we were doing – we were introduced by our parents, but we got hired back year after year because they were happy with our work. (I actually worked there for a while after I graduated, too, and they were happy enough with my work that they permanently upped my hourly rate to the really good wage they’d given me a few months previously for some data entry that was so boring no-one was allowed to do more than four hours a day).

        3. Joey*

          if you start out with poor diversity this type of preferential treatment just perpetuates it. And it doesn’t make sense to essentially cut off a huge part of your applicant pool. You’re essentially saying we’ll hire a mediocre relative over a great external candidate.

      2. PostScript*

        This. Same for me. I worked at my dad’s company for a summer and my boss had nothing but praise (and a little sarcasm) for me. But that’s because I’m a hard worker in general.

        Comparatively though… the other summer temp hire was also a coworker’s kid and she was an average employee. Definitely not bad, though! I think it depends on the kids and it depends on the culture. This company was also medium sized, so the only time I interacted with my dad was before I started my shift– I would walk over to his building and say hello while he was on his lunch.

    4. Mike C.*

      I would love a summer intern. I’d teach them all about the finer arts of statistical data analysis, long term process improvement and waxing my car.

      1. MT*

        I am working on getting an intern, i have been saving the grunt project i have little interest in doing.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      I’ve had mixed experiences. It happens a lot in my industry because I work in a niche of advertising that isn’t well known to most people, so a lot of people hear about it because…they have a relative who works in the industry already.

      I would say more often than not the legacies have been good, especially because the agency is usually large enough that the kid wouldn’t be interacting with her parent much, if at all. I do think you’re right about many of them being under pressure not to hurt the family name. That being said, they do get special treatment — better raises than someone with no connection would get, and it is definitely harder to apply corrective measures, especially when you’re dealing with a *client’s* kid.

      For the OP, I’d be wary, because in a small business it’s going to be harder to avoid friction if the kid turns out not to do well and the parent isn’t willing to let her fall down and make mistakes.

    6. Beebs the Elder*

      Just make one of the interview questions, “Has one of your parents ever tried to get a high school teacher to change a grade, or have either of them EVER tried to talk to one of your college instructors about your performance in class?” A yes to either should be an immediate disqualifier, because that tells you you’re dealing with Helicopter Parent.*

      On the other hand, if my kid were working for my employer, she had better be on Perfect Behavior every second of every workday or there would be hell to pay at home. She would be a dream intern/student worker for that reason alone.

      *Yes, there can be legitimate reasons for parents to get involved in high school grades. But not very often.

      1. Jax*

        “Tell me about a time you disagreed with a teacher’s grade. What did you do? And looking back now, is there anything you would do differently?”

        I’d listen to the story about Mom confronting the high school Spanish teacher, but I’d really want to know if the kid still thinks it was really cool or if it’s a bit embarrassing and something they wished they had handled on their own.

        It’s actually a great question for all applicants because you’ll hear a real example of how the intern handles criticism.

        1. AnonInSC*

          I really like this question. I hire student interns and graduate assistants and will use it!

        2. Kelly L.*

          Oooh! I could tell a story for this one that would make me look good even now. ;) (Because I was right, but learned a big lesson in organization trying to prove it. Development!)

        3. Beebs the Elder*

          That is a good question for an intern with no work experience, because no matter what the situation–the student was right in the end, the teacher was right–it would speak volumes about the student’s probable approach to the workplace. Can she advocate for herself effectively? Does she accept responsibility if she’s ultimately in the wrong? And so on.

        4. the gold digger*

          “Tell me about a time you disagreed with a teacher’s grade. What did you do? And looking back now, is there anything you would do differently?”

          Yes. I would have written a better paper.

        5. Mabel*

          I had a dispute with a teacher in high school (I took a blank sheet of paper out of my spiral notebook to figure out a trig problem on a test, and he accused me of looking at answers in my notebook, which had never even entered my mind), and the guidance counselor mediated. At the time, I was surprised they didn’t involve my parents. Actually the guidance counselor could have spoken with them without my knowledge, but they weren’t present when the counselor and I talked with the teacher. I was so offended, I wouldn’t look at him. I was really disappointed that after spending months in his class and LOVING trig, he could know me so little as to believe that I would cheat.

      2. Jessa*

        The grade one in HS is not necessarily a fair question. I have had teachers who did not like me, or who thought I cheated and gave me an unfair grade and wouldn’t listen. You better believe I had my father in there the next day. I came into a French class in the middle (I moved into the area. I had never had French before,) my father spoke fluent French, he drilled me for hours on the things that were going to be tested. I got a 90% but the teacher said I must have cheated so she failed me. He was in there the next day. I was moved to a different class (because they didn’t trust her not to retaliate,) the grade was changed and the teacher reprimanded for not looking into the situation properly.

        There are a lot of valid reasons for parents to go to bat for students against teachers. Not very often at the Uni level (unless the student has special needs and is not being properly accommodated and is unable to advocate properly for themselves,) but at the HS level? Heck yes. Teachers rarely listen to HS students.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I’m sorry your French teacher was a jerk, but, as someone who has taught in a number of both public and private high schools, I’m going to call BS on Teachers rarely listen to HS students.

        2. Lindsay J*

          This. Even in college sometimes I had to involve my dad (mostly with financial aid issues). I would go down to the office and speak to people. And they would pretty much smile and pat me on the head and go, “Everything in your account is completely right sweetie. This is just the way things work.” I would present my evidence that it was wrong and be ignored. I would ask if there was someone else I could talk to about it, just for clarification, because this was thousands of dollars at stake, and they would tell me no, their word was final, and that I needed to be on my way out the door now because they were busy and had other things to tend to.

          So I would call up my dad and tell him what happened. I hated doing it, because I wanted to be independent. But I needed things fixed, too.

          So he would call up, and all of a sudden they would see what was wrong with my account when he called, and it would be fixed by the end of the day.

        3. Broke Law Student*

          I had a teacher in HS give me a 0 on a paper. He admitted he hadn’t read the paper, but had read my thesis and didn’t like it. He told me I could rewrite the paper that he hadn’t read, or take the 0. I told him that I would take the 0 if he read the paper and thought it deserved a 0, but he refused. I guess I could have just rewritten the paper, but at that point my mom did get involved–it seemed egregious enough to alert the school about it.

      3. LENEL*

        … Hiring for retail assistants my Mum’s go to question used to be “what sort of chores do you do at home” and/or “how do you help out around the house” and/or “what sort of activities do you do after school”. The first two are not quite the same question, but pretty similar. She could then see the kids that were likely to already be used to working when they were on shift, had some basic cleaning skills and had dedication and were good at showing up for things on time/having expectations in place.

    7. No Longer Passing By*

      I think that success strongly depends on the office size and pre-existing culture. If it’s a larger company, perhaps it’s easier to retain the boundary lines. But small, family-owned firms already tend to have boundary issues. If you add coworker children to the mix, I can see that pushing the whole train off the track.

      PTSD here

  6. LBK*

    I think it depends how closely the parent and child would be working together and how that coworker’s work performance is overall. My sister, my brother and I have all worked at the same company as our mother and there’s never been any issues – my brother actually still works with her and has for almost 2 years, and there are still people who are surprised to find out they’re related. Although it definitely helps that she goes by her maiden name so the connection is a little less obvious.

    1. Katieinthemountains*

      Yes, this is how it should be, so good on them. But my husband worked with a man, his daughter, and his son. It’s not as bad now that the son has moved on, but the man takes everything personally and reels in his daughter, so if my husband champions a different technical approach, both of them are mad at him.

  7. KT*

    Ewwww just no. There is so so so much that can go horribly wrong, especially at a smaller company

    My intern horror story on this one (continued from the horror stories I shared yesterday). This was a very large company with over 5,000 employees at one site. It was not uncommon for husbands, wives, and adult children to work there, but always in different departments and usually different buildings on a huge campus. For instance, my dad worked there, but the entire 2 years I was there, I never once saw him.

    Anyway, the CEO’s son was hired as an intern. He had a very common last name, so while most employees knew, many of the interns did not. He was a nice enough kid and did good work, but for whatever reason, the other interns decided they hated him and they hazed the heck out of him. They splattered his chair with ketchup, filled his desk drawers with trash and old food, took away his computer. It was awful. The poor kid never wanted to say anything, because he didn’t want to be the CEO’s son raising a stink.

    His father stopped by his desk one day (never happened except this once–the kid had forgotten his cell phone at his parent’s house so his dad was returning it). The kids suddenly put two and two together and realized they had been harassing the CEO’s kid, and even worse, when the CEO came by, the poor intern was pulling rotted fruit out of his desk drawers.

    The absolute hell that was raised was awful. All of the interns were fired, and poor harassed intern left. Several of the interns had parents employed by the company… The CEO then called in each of those parents to let them know what their children had done to his son.

    It was pure awful, shell-shocked hell that ended up having repercussions for months.

    There’s now a ban on hiring interns with family in the company.

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Holy crap! I’m sorry, but any 18 year old should know that hazing is not appropriate in the office (not unheard of, or even uncommon, but they had to know if someone found out it wouldn’t be ok). Initially, I didn’t love that the CEO spoke with their parents, but honestly, it probably was for the best. The CEO can only ream them out so much, whereas parents have the power to give them the kick in the butt they most certainly needed. Yikes…

      1. Green*

        If the parents recommended them (or recommended to them that they apply), they should definitely know how their child behaved in an office setting.

        Also, the CEO had dual roles here: CEO to employee and dad of tormented son to parent of bullies. As long as the fact that their kid bullied the CEO’s kid didn’t impact the CEO’s review of the employee, then the CEO handled this pretty well.

    2. Satsuma*

      Wow. I’d love to hear Alison’s take on this. What would you have recommended that the CEO do in this situation? I can sort of understand firing the interns, although I can’t imagine that it looked great to the other staff. Calling the parents in seems like an overreaction though.

      1. INTP*

        Calling in the parents does sound OTT and unprofessional to me…but then, if the parents just asked their kids what happened, the kids probably would have made up a BS story that made the parents hate the CEO and his son. And of course they wouldn’t confront the CEO, because he’s the CEO, so they wouldn’t be set straight. So I can see why he did it as a pre-emptive morale move. (Though it likely wasn’t actually a pre-emptive morale thing in his thought process so much as “I’m pissed at these kids and want their parents to get mad at them.”)

      2. Kelly L.*

        I think the interns should have been fired no matter who they harassed. I’m not a big fan of chewing out the parents, if the interns were legal adults.

        1. Green*

          Doesn’t sound as though the parents were chewed out but informed. And the parents probably recommended their kids, in which case they need to know which behavior to correct before they recommend them for anything ever again.

          1. Treena Kravm*

            This. There’s no way that the parents didn’t at least informally recommend their kids. A similar conversation would happen if any recommended employee turned out to be a disaster.

        2. JoJo*

          Well if the kids rode in with their parents, I’d speak to the parents to find out why they thought their kids were hauling a bag of rotten fruit to the office that day. Frankly, I wonder if at least some of the parents were colluding in the bullying.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I’m more worried about the kids’ immediate supervisors than their parents. Did the supervisor let them get away with the bullying because the bullies were somebody’s kids, and ignore the one kid’s plight because they didn’t realize he was somebody’s kid too, rather than being concerned about it because he was a human being working in their department?

            1. Today's anon*

              Yes, that’s my question – where were the interns’ direct supervisors?

        3. jag*

          “I’m not a big fan of chewing out the parents” I don’t see how you know that happened.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I don’t know that happened, no. It could have been either a chewing-out or an FYI. I’m not really a huge fan of either, for what it’s worth.

      3. K.*

        In my opinion he should have fired the interns for hazing, period, no matter who they hazed, because this was a place of business, not a fraternity. He should have also taken their managers to task for either not knowing or not caring about this unprofessional behavior. But leave the interns’ parents out of it.

        1. AW*

          I cannot fathom why or how these interns didn’t get in trouble before the CEO found out what was happening.

      4. peanut butter kisses*

        I would think that the person who should have seen this and stopped it was whoever supervised the interns, jmo. They should have been the one spoken to first and have that person then speak to the interns separately.

    3. INTP*

      While this sounds awful for everyone involved, is it bad that I’m happy the bullies were caught by the CEO and fired? How mortified they must have been.

    4. LBK*

      This actually doesn’t sound like a problem with hiring family members, it sounds like a problem with hiring a bunch of assholes that thought it was acceptable to haze their coworker – and managers who somehow missed that all of this was happening and/or didn’t do anything about it. That would’ve been a completely disaster whether the victim was the CEO’s kid or not.

        1. nk*

          I’m all for leaving parents out of it about 99% of the time, but in this case I think telling them was the right move for 2 reasons: a) this was not the behavior of adults. In that quasi-adult period (for many) of college, I think there are some times when it’s good for parents to get involved, and this totally juvenile behavior qualifies in my book. b) I’m assuming these kids got the job because of their parents; hence the parents were effectively recommenders. I would definitely want to know if this happened with anyone I recommended for a job!

          1. LBK*

            The interns are adults. Whatever behavior they exhibit is the behavior of an adult – and the consequences that follow those behaviors are their own to handle. The purpose of an internship is to prepare you for the working world; reporting work problems to their parents undercuts the value of the lesson of being fired.

            1. Kelly L.*

              This. I can kind of see it as a PR move if the CEO thought they’d lie to their parents, but overall I think it’s best to just deal with the interns. We’re calling them kids (I’m guilty too), but interns are usually college-aged adults. My perspective is colored by having worked at colleges, where there’s FERPA and there are a lot of things you legally can’t tell a parent. There’s not a law about it at work, but I kind of feel like there should be an ethical boundary.

          2. Green*

            I think this is the same as someone giving you a heads up that someone you recommended was extremely unprofessional. I’d want to know that so I wouldn’t put my neck out for them again.

            Also, unfortunately, many kids got their idea of appropriate office behavior from “The Office” and particularly enjoy the office pranks on Dwight.

            1. LBK*

              Do people really take that as truth? I grew up watching The Office and it always seemed readily apparent that almost nothing about that show is accurate (the #1 indicator being that no one ever seems to actually work).

              1. Green*

                I think they think that office pranks are probably the norm (although maybe not quite as extravagant as Jim’s). I know there are places where it happens, but it’s definitely not “the norm” from my employment experience.

            2. jag*

              “I think this is the same as someone giving you a heads up that someone you recommended was extremely unprofessional. ”


          3. Zillah*

            I agree with you and Green – given that the interns seem to have gotten the jobs through their parents, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to tell the parents why their kids were fired.

            1. KT*

              ^This. This company had the culture where employees worked so hard and were so valued, their recommendation for a potential employee was gold. So if you referred someone, it was a foregone conclusion that they would be hired.

              In this case, the parents all submitted their kids for these internships, and the kids were instantly hired. The CEO did not chew them out, just let them know that their kids were no longer with the company, and to caution them about referring potential employees in the future

          4. Artemesia*

            I agree. These are kids who got their internship through their parents and so the parents need to know how their reputation has been damaged by the behavior of their kids. This is the only reason to get the parents involved. Heck if I hired someone highly recommended by a friend and the person hired was a trainwreck, I might well mention that to the recommending friend.

        2. QAT Contractor*

          I would disagree. I’m not sure what was said in these parental meetings, but firing the interns and not saying anything to the parents seems like a big potential for backlash from his staff.

          If the meetings were just him being angry and yelling at the parents for the way their adult kids were acting, then it was a pointless meeting. But if he just calmly explained what he had seen and what had taken place (basically the reasons for the kids being fired) I would see that as more of a preemptive act to avoid potential fall out.

          Either way, it is not a good situation to have to be in, and the CEOs kid should have spoken up to whoever his manager was who should have been able to handle the situation earlier on, thus avoiding the whole mess. I’m assuming the manager wouldn’t have been the CEO.

          1. AnonInSC*

            I agree. While ideally keeping the parents out of it would be preferred, I see that there could be bigger issues if they weren’t notified. It completely depends on how the meetings were handled by the CEO. I think I would have them in for a meeting and factually explain what occurred so there was clear communication. But I hope I’d be professional enough to not take it out on the parents. I hope I could anyway. It would be extremely difficult to not take it personally when my child was harassed so badly. And to keep it separate from the parents, even though I know that the kids of great parents can still do crappy things.

          2. LBK*

            If there’s fallout from firing a child, then a) that child definitely shouldn’t have been hired in the first place, and b) that parent should be performance managed. It would be wildly unprofessional to get upset with the company because your family member got fired.

            1. Lyssa*

              I might disagree with that. People do sometimes get fired for unjust reasons, and it would not necessarily be unprofessional or signal a need for performance management for an employee to be upset that someone he or she cares about got fired for what the employee believed to be an unjust reason (assuming that the employee didn’t act upset in an unprofessional way). It’s reasonable for the CEO to want to avoid that by preemptively setting the record straight.

              1. LBK*

                I don’t think you need to be completely stoic about it, but you should still be able to conduct yourself professionally. Regardless of your relationship to a person, it would be totally inappropriate to question your manager about why they fired someone or let it impact the way you operate at work, even if you thought it was completely unjust. It’s not your business and there’s nothing you can do to change it. If they feel so strongly entitled to the reasoning, they can ask their child. If they don’t trust their child to give them the truth, well, that seems like a whole separate issue that’s definitely not work-related.

                1. Lyssa*

                  Well, yes, they should definitely be professional about it. But I would worry that they just sit and seethe, or complain to friends, or otherwise just have a bad taste in their mouth about it, which isn’t really good for anyone. Plus, if the kid is obnoxious enough to put ketchup in the chair of another intern, s/he’s obnoxious enough to lie to his/her parents about why s/he was fired. If you want to retain a valued employee and keep him/her happy, it’s wise to be up front with him/her.

                2. LBK*

                  But they could do that about anyone you fired, not just their own children. That still doesn’t mean you owe them an explanation, and I still stand firm that part of being an employee is letting things like that roll off your back, no matter who it happens to.

                3. LBK*

                  Also – I’d think finding a firing unjust would indicate a problem with your relationship with management anyway. If you trust your manager, you’re going to be able to trust that they made the right decision. Especially without having any details of the situation, assuming your manager made the wrong choice is a big deal – it indicates that you don’t believe your manager is capable of leading the department and making good choices.

                4. Chinook*

                  “That still doesn’t mean you owe them an explanation”

                  I agree to a point. No one is owed an explanation about why someone is fired but if a whole cohort of people are fired, it would be in the CEO’s best interest to explain why otherwise others could start wondering if there are budget cuts or something else going on. Firing a large number of people at once is rare enough that an explanation needs to be given.

        3. Qwerty*

          If the CEO was angry/chewing out the parents, that would be completely inappropriate. But when I put on my ‘parent of a teenager who will be interning in a few years’ hat, I would assume that I’d advocated for my child for the internship. So if my CEO pulled me into his office to tell me how my referral had panned out, without any over the top emotional outbursts or scolding, I’d consider it a professional courtesy. I’d be absolutely mortified, but I’d want to know.

          And if my kid somehow turned into that much of an asshole in the next couple of years, I doubt he’d give me the full story when he was let go- and I certainly wouldn’t want to recommend him for other positions!

        4. Today's anon*

          I think I would rather that he had talked to the interns’ supervisors, this happened on their watch.

      1. INTP*

        The bullying wasn’t caused by hiring family members, but firing a bunch of children of employees would cause a bigger stink at the company than firing a bunch of random interns. I can see how they would be gunshy about hiring family members after that. If by some horrible chance they had to fire a bunch of them again, it would be better for them to not have family members in the company to get pissed about it.

      2. JoJo*

        I would have fired the interns and the managers who stood by and let it happen. Don’t tell me they didn’t know about bullying that involved bringing rotten fruit to the office and filling a desk drawer.

        1. AW*

          Or that none of them saw a desk chair covered in ketchup or noticed that one of their intern’s computer would go missing.

          Seriously, what the heck? No wonder the intern didn’t complain to anybody! If they were seeing all this and doing nothing, why would he think a complaint with change anything?

          1. JoJo*

            I’m also wondering about the parents. If junior rode in that day carrying a bag of rotten fruit, how would they not notice?

            1. QAT Contractor*

              Most likely separate cars, different start/end times, just carpooling with other interns. Or they could have brought fruit that wasn’t rotten, left it at their desk for a while then stuck it in the other employees desk and buried it under some other items. Or the CEOs kid never used their desk drawers so it just sat in there for weeks.

              I used to work with a guy that thought it was funny to tape an overly ripe banana under someone’s desk. I’m not sure he was ever caught for it, but someone noticed it before it got too rancid (within a couple days) and had it removed. The guy was sad that it didn’t get worse, but still laughed at how clever he thought he was.

          2. Jessa*

            Yeh the managers would be in my office for some serious dressing downs if I were that CEO. I’d be more concerned with them than the parents even if the parents were recommenders.

        2. KT*

          I honestly don’t think the different managers knew (these interns were from 9 different departments, and most had different managers). The hazed kid never told anyone, and went to great pains to hide it.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Oh wow! That’s even weirder. How did this whole bunch even gang up or single out this kid with so little overlap? I mean, I don’t doubt it, I’m just sort of boggled.

            1. KT*

              That is something I never figured out. Some where even in different buildings and really had to make an effort to get over there, so I have no idea why they banded together to target him. He was a really nice kid.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                That’s just so bizarre, that all these people from so many different departments and buildings would gang up on one person like that. I’m wondering if he did something to one of them, either inadvertently or on purpose, and that started it all. Or maybe said something he shouldn’t. But somehow I doubt that since he was the CEO’s son and likely knew he needed to have a pristine image.

              2. TootsNYC*

                I find it hard to believe they didn’t know who he was, and that who he was wasn’t the -cause- of the hazing. After all, their parents knew.

                As for all those people randomly targeting him, and whether he did something to set them off–talk about blaming the victim!
                I can tell you, bullying is essentially a feeding frenzy. And you -do- get everyone going after one person because that’s the one person who shows a weakness of some sort.
                They likely tested the waters, and when they realized that he wasn’t going to “tattle,” or do anything to make them stop, they just kept ratcheting it up.

      3. Chickaletta*

        Yep, half the problem here begins with referring to these interns as “children”. They are not children. Children don’t go to work. These people are old enough to serve in the military. If they’re old enough to be trained to follow directions and shot a gun at an enemy, then they are old enough to be fired for putting ketchup on a chair and their mommies and daddies do not need to be explained why. If the parents don’t like it, that is their problem. Sorry, just soooo tired of parents getting overly involved in their adult children’s lives. Please let your children grow up by not micromanaging their careers, it doesn’t help you, it doesn’t help them, and it really doesn’t help their managers or professors.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Wow! I feel bad for the CEO’s son and rejoice that those other interns hazing him were fired.

      OTOH how did no one else know what the poor harassed intern was going through? The hazing you described had to have been noticed by some permanent employees even if the harassed intern did not tell anyone. (Honestly harassed intern should have told someone if he could not handle it himself.) Those interns should have been stopped and possibly fired before they were caught by the CEO. In some ways you can view it as the CEO protecting his own child, but I chose to view it as the CEO doing what the interns boss should of done. The hazing sounds really childish and immature and should not have been going on at the company at all no matter who was the victim.

      1. Lyssa*

        Agreed – remove CEO’s kid from the story and just make him some random intern, and it still seems perfectly reasonable.

      2. Anon Accountant*

        Exactly. How did no one else notice what was happening? Did the other interns discuss what they did? Because if they are immature enough to do this crap to someone at work I’d think they’d be immature enough to talk about it and another person overhear and realize that some stuff was happening.

    6. Anna*

      Honestly, good for the CEO. His son was the only one that wasn’t acting like a completely jerk. Also, next time these parents should teach their children what’s appropriate at THEIR company. Nepotism can go both ways.
      I once had a co-worker who was the daughter of a client, and she literally just shopped online 8 hours a day the entire work week. Not one wanted her on their account because she’d bill hours that wasn’t worked against the budget. She couldn’t be fired, and was just the worst human being.

      On the other hand, I had an intern that was the daughter of a VP. She worked her butt off, staying late to do admin work, being ultra prepared for all meetings, and generally just a really great professional attitude. Nothing was too ‘beneath’ her to do, and was just a pleasure to work with.

    7. Kelly L.*

      Poor kid!

      Something feels “off” about the rule being instituted because of this specific incident–after all, if the hazee hadn’t been a relative, the hazers might never have been caught and fired. (And maybe he might have told on them if he hadn’t been a relative–but maybe not.)

      1. KT*

        In this company, an employee referral was a guarantee of an job. If I referred my cousin, they would hire him based on my word. Obviously that has larger issues, but since regular full-time employees have large roles and accountability, they were more likely to be weeded out quickly

    8. S*

      As someone who isn’t too far past her intern years, this is a horrifying story. Yes, those interns should have been fired immediately, regardless of who they were hazing. What were they thinking?!

      As for the CEO getting the parents involved afterwards, I think it was appropriate in this situation because it stopped the possibility of the hazers going home and lying about the reason why they got fired. It was a pre-emptive move and I think it was necessary, as long as the parents themselves were not facing punishment or repercussions, but simply informed that their child, who was interning at the company, was fired for egregious misconduct.

      1. Amanda*

        I don’t necessarily disagree, but I do think that if the interns lied about why they were terminated and the parents somehow thought that it was OK to inquire about why their terrible offspring were fired, the CEO could then have said, “They were fired because they terrorized and harassed a fellow intern and created a hostile work environment, and we do not tolerate that kind of behavior.”

        Although I guess that wouldn’t be true, because clearly there were managers that DID tolerate that behavior.

        1. S*

          A commenter upthread pointed out that the parent may not inquire at all for whatever reason, but would take the kid’s word for it, and secretly harbor resentment against the company/CEO/coworkers while not knowing the entire story.

          1. Amanda*

            That’s a really good point.

            And reading what KT said about the interaction the CEO had with the employees/parents, it sounds like it was pretty well-handled.

            Someone else pointed out that firing a large group of people without acknowledgment or explanation to the rest of the staff can be really fishy, so…this all makes sense to me upon further reading.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      How did this go on for so long? Someone, somewhere, at some point had to have seen or heard what was going on. Did they just stand by and let it happen? I’m baffled that no one ever brought it to their managers’ attention. Or maybe they did and the managers didn’t act on it, in which case the managers should have been fired also.

      I agree with what someone else said, that this isn’t really a problem with hiring family. It’s a problem with people not stepping in and putting a stop to something that never should have gotten to the point it did.

      1. Amanda*

        I was about to post this exact comment. Every manager that either turned a blind eye to this or let this go on for so long should have been immediately terminated.

        This is so upsetting to read about, and I hope that this poor guy is OK now. This sounds really traumatizing.

      2. KT*

        Agreed, this isn’t about the pitfalls of family, but the pitfalls of taking parent referrals very seriously–in this company’s case, an employee referral meant the job was yours based on the employee’s word. Everyone thinks their child is a shining star…until they haze the CEO’s son.

        I never saw the hazing (or you better believe there would have been heel to pay) but I will say I worked with the CEO’s son and he went to great effort to hide any discomfort or complaint about ANYTHING–he didn’t want to be seen as a diva or unable to stand on his own feet, so maybe that’s why no one knew.

        1. Amanda*

          That’s heartbreaking to me, that the CEO’s son just suffered in silence. Bullying is so gosh damn awful. It really kills me, how cruel people can be.

    10. jag*

      The core problem of the incident you mentioned isn’t about hiring relatives as interns, but about sucky management and abuse of interns. In that respect it’s actually a good thing it was the CEO’s son getting abused – that, I hope, would put a stop to this sort of nonsense that should not happen to anyone.

    11. hbc*

      I hope there was some evidence that *all* of the other interns were involved. Some might have been bystanders and, while they should have spoken up, it seems like none of the regular employees did either. The mass firing aspect is the only thing that is possibly out of whack about the response.

      1. KT*

        Caveat–he didn’t fire all interns, just the ones that sat near his son and were clearly involved (either by admitting it after confronted by CEO or because they had 200 ketchup packs in their trash)

    12. NickelandDime*

      I would have wanted to know if my kid was involved in something like this! I have no problem with what the CEO did.

    13. The Other Dawn*

      I would have also wanted to make the interns involved pay for the cleaning of the chair on which they splattered the ketchup, assuming it’s fabric, and any nastiness in the desk that resulted from the rotten fruit.

    14. Zillah*

      As others have said – how on earth did that go on for so long without somebody noticing and doing something about it? That to me sounds like a breakdown in management, and the interns deserved to be fired over hazing someone, CEO’s son or not.

    15. Stranger than fiction*

      Wow wow and wow. I mean I could understand practical jokes like covering their computer with post its but this is a whole other level and destroying company property. How sad that the son felt he couldn’t say anything.

    16. Artemesia*

      Who was supervising these jerks? Kudos for the CEO kid for not immediately whining, but surely something this gross didn’t escape everyone’s notice.

    17. Sigrid*

      Why on earth did the other interns think this was acceptable behavior? And that it wouldn’t have repercussions?

  8. grasshopper*

    If this is a family business where everyone in the family is working in the business, then I understand the expectation of nepotism hiring, but this doesn’t seem to be the case if you were told to have a hiring process. It also sounds like you’re small enough that you don’t have an HR policy that addresses nepotism and conflicts of interest but aren’t large enough that a relative would be one of 10,000 other employees.

    Remind all the snowplow parents that you’re all working together for the same company and it is in the best interest of the company to have the best possible staff (which probably isn’t their special snowflake).

  9. INTP*

    First of all, I totally agree that it’s not ideal to hire coworkers’ children. I never would if I could help it. Many companies won’t allow spouses to be on the same teams or in the same org chart – this is the same thing to me, the intense bond between two people can create drama and conflicts of interest. And I just don’t want to deal with drama of that sort.

    That said, one thing to be aware of is that since this is a small family-owned company, nepotism may be part of the culture and you may be expected to do it anyways. Hiring coworkers’ kids is something that makes my skin crawl but it’s not a hill I’d die on. If the people it’s not sitting well with are just other coworkers, then nbd. Let them have tantrums. But if it’s the owners or the family members of the owners, it’s worth feeling out just how big a deal it is to them, because you wouldn’t be the first employee of such a company totally screwed over by nepotism.

  10. illini02*

    I don’t know, I feel that your refusal to even consider them is kind of a problem. I understand what your concerns are, however, it just seems that telling them point blank they can’t even apply is a bit rude. Especially at a family owned business. Why not just give them a shot. If they legitimately aren’t good for it, no problem. However, if they ARE good then it seems unfortunate that they are being blackballed.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Because the OP doesn’t want to deal with the potential problems that could result, as I described in the post, even if the person is good. It’s no different than saying you won’t consider spousal hires either.

    2. INTP*

      Because if she decides to give a shot to all the interns, she’ll wind up with parents who are pissed that she didn’t think Little Snowflake Wakeen was best for the job. And Sally’s mom will be super pissed at Jane’s mom when Jane gets the internship. She winds up with a large number of people who think she is mean and inept at hiring because she didn’t recognize that their special snowflake was the proper choice (including Jane’s mom, if Jane has to be fired or reprimanded). Considering there are no doubt loads of qualified young people who aren’t related to employees, it just doesn’t seem worth the risk to add a few more candidates to the pile.

      Honestly, having your employment limited by your close family members and spouse/SO’s presence is just life. At the company where I did my internships, spouses can’t be in the same org chart at all, and it was a large global corporation where you could be in the same org chart and never interact professionally. At the hospital where my dad and stepmom work, a reorganization left my stepmom indirectly under my dad in the org chart, and she had to leave the hospital because HR said they were breaking the fraternization policy. Sometimes you don’t get a shot at a job because you have loved ones already working there and I get why it might seem unfair but it’s also life and it’s for the greater good.

      1. illini02*

        But it doesn’t seem like its “just life” at this company. I get some places have these policies in place, but according to the OP, this isn’t one of those places. So essentially, a precedent of hiring co-workers kids has been set, and now he is changing it. Not that I agree that parents should interfere, but I can see a problem if for the past 5 years they have been letting other people’s kids work there, then all of a sudden new guy comes in and changes it, that can cause issues. Think if Jill’s kid had wanted to do it for 3 years when he turned 18, and all of a sudden he can’t even apply. It would be similar (but clearly not exactly the same) if I was at a job and I saw at the 3 year mark everyone got some new perk, then once my 3 year mark comes up some new guy comes in and changes it around.

        Now granted, I don’t know the co-workers, so maybe they are all jerks, but do we not even give the benefit of the doubt anymore that adults can act professionally until proven otherwise. From the OPs comment, it doesn’t even sound like it didn’t work out in the past, just that he doesn’t want to deal with it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Eh, I don’t think it’s all that different than if one guy always hired interns from his alma mater and it was a known thing at that school that there was an internship slot with him, and then he left and is replaced by someone who isn’t interested in doing her hiring that way. People get to hire the way they think is best; there’s no reason they need to be bound to their predecessors’ traditions, unless it’s actually an established company perk or something like that (and it doesn’t sound like it is in this case).

          1. illini02*

            It was a “perk” to the parents though. I mean, I could see many parents who enjoyed that their kid got that first taste of the working world at their company. It definitely is something being taken away from them, based on nothing more than a whim.

          2. Jessa*

            Yeh but the Alma Mater thing can end up with some serious downline repercussions, particularly racial/cultural/class wise, since a lot of people who hire “those who went to my school,” really only mean the ones that look and act like they do.

            That might be another reason why employee referral would be bad, if I have a very narrow group of employees, counting on their referrals subjects me to possibly illegal discriminatory practises.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Right, I wouldn’t support that at all. I’m just pointing out that it’s okay to change things that your predecessor did before you, even if people grew to count on it.

    3. Allison*

      Let’s see, what could go wrong with “just giving them a shot” . . .

      – if they are hired, even if they’re legitimately the best for the job, it’s gonna look like nepotism, and that looks bad.

      – if they aren’t hired, the parent might raise a stink about it

      – if they are hired and don’t do well, OP might be hesitant to raise concerns about their performance, knowing that any criticism or discipline may provoke drama with the intern’s parent.

  11. Erin*

    Frankly, you’re probably doing the students a service. Who wants to work with their parents hovering over them? Their parents might even be pushing them into it, when they have no desire to work at that particular company for the summer.

    If you still feel a little guilty over it, you could take a step further and offer to put them into contact with someone else. “I feel awkward/uncomfortable managing the child of an employee here. But, what does Jane major in? I’ve heard you mention her accomplishments before, and I’m sure she’d be a great fit somewhere else. Let me see if I know someone in that field.”

    I think that might be a nice touch, but you’re obligated.

  12. Kateyjl*

    I agree with the OP. It can be really frustrating. 10 years later and we’re still unraveling the errors, omissions and just didn’t give a damns from a huge project that was given to 2 employee’s kids.

    1. jag*

      Interns should not be doing huge projects that have multiyear ramifications, and certainly not in a manner that problems are not evident right away, so the intern can benefit from feedback.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Wait, what? 10 years?!

      I see internships as more a benefit to the intern than the company – you’re investing resources into helping them learn the ropes. MAYBE you get something out of it, but it’s quite possible you won’t. That seems like way too big of a project for interns.

      1. Jessa*

        I thought that legally they had to be for the benefit of the intern, if the company is getting too much actual work, it’s employment not internship.

          1. jag*


            But I’ll add that if position isn’t highly educational, it’s not really an internship regardless of what it’s called: it’s a low-paid or non-paid job.

  13. kitty*

    OP said: “Of course, this isn’t sitting well with some coworkers who want to get their children in for the summer.”
    I think it’s strange when people think their company “owes” their kid an internship just because they work there! Unless the precedent has been that every year the summer position goes to an employee’s child, then I don’t see why they would expect their child to get the job automatically.

    1. Martin*

      I’m the author of the original question (The “OP” I guess). Anyway, in the past summer students have been hired, and often was children of co-workers. However, I was never part of hiring them, and quite often they worked in other departments. Since this time around I’m in charge of hiring a student for my department, I want to avoid that potential hornet’s nest. But the precedent has been set… In fact, one child of one of my co-workers has worked here last year, and my co-worker wants her back again this year! Hence, you can see the dilemna… Yes, I do sense that they feel that the company “owes” their kids a summer job…

      1. Anonymous123*

        Since this has happened previously, how did your co-workers behave? Did they act like helicopter parents?

      2. Mike C.*

        Ok, so the interns never worked with their parents and you don’t note any problems happening in the past, so why do you believe there is a “hornet’s nest” now?

        If the company typically accepts interns who have worked there before based on past good results, don’t you think there’s a problem if you’re suddenly not going to allow an otherwise good intern back simply because of who their parents are, even though their parents haven’t changed from when they were working here before?

        1. illini02*

          Thats exactly my thought. It seems that he is looking for an issue where there isn’t one. While that is his choice, he shouldn’t be mad that “its not sitting well with people”

        2. Nerdling*

          It looks like, if I’m reading this correctly, that Martin doesn’t want to do it because this time they WILL be working with their parents or have the potential to do so because they’re being hired for Martin’s department.

      3. AnonInSC*

        I can understand why you have this policy, but I do think that eliminating a candidate that worked well the previous year just because her parents work there isn’t quite fair. I can understand the frustration with the policy in this case. It may be better to phase it in for future hires. Or set a policy that at a minimum they can’t work in the same department/area.

        1. Mike C.*

          Yeah, I think professional distance is a great policy (more generally I would call it “Conflict of Interest”), and you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting a policy/having a chat with employees about how interns are to be treated regardless of their relation to other employees. You can head these issues off at the pass.

      4. Anonymous Educator*

        Completely off topic, but I noticed you spelled dilemma as dilemna. When I was growing up, an elementary school teacher told me it was spelled dilemna, and I even sounded it out in my head (dilemNA to make sure I wasn’t “misspelling” it), but then I found out later (in college) that it’s actually spelled dilemma, and I’ve yet to find out where this whole dilemna misspelling even came from (I’ve looked into its etymology and found no clues there).

  14. Sunflower*

    ‘Of course, this isn’t sitting well with some coworkers who want to get their children in for the summer.’

    This is where the problems will stem from. It’s not even about the parents hovering over. I work in a small business and our company president has had his kids come in to work before. They could not have cared less about the work they were doing but HE wanted them to work. They basically just ended up creating more work for everyone else. If they were legitimately interested in doing the work, I think it would have turned out much different and I don’t think the employees would harbor as much resentment towards them as they do. It sounds like the parents want the kids to get the job more than the kids want it and that’s a problem whether the parents work there or not. I agree with your decision and feel like you can find plenty of great candidates who are not your coworkers children. Plus if you interview them and they aren’t hired, expect to get flack back on that as well. Better to just address it as a blanket policy.

    1. Got the Bad Apple*

      Sorry to say, my one bad experience with an intern was a case of the parent placing their child in an unwanted position.
      The mother was an excellent worker in our lab, and when she said her son wanted to intern with us, we were happy to accept. Unfortunately he did nothing but surf the web, sit around listening to his headphones, and draw other interns into loud and distracting conversations. The mother was a witness to most of this behavior, but never said anything to the son in the work space. When I asked him to help me with some simple but necessary tasks, he replied “No, that sounds boring,” and walked away, saying “Science is stupid anyway”.
      Eventually I had to ask our boss to tell the intern that sleeping at his mother’s lab bench was a safety issue. The boss was shocked when I described the intern’s behavior, called mother and son into his office, and I never saw the kid again.
      I’m pretty sure that one was not interviewed for the position, as the only possible answer to ‘why do you want to join our lab’ would have been ‘because mom said I had to’.

  15. Richard*

    I’d like to have my son get an internship somewhere with my company someday – but only if he goes through the normal hiring process, works in a group far away from me, and if he works somewhere else first. I don’t want him to have people take it easy on him (or hard on him) because of me.

    I had a bad experience a few years back with an intern who was the son of the program manager. He was the kind of guy who I think could have been a great guy, but he got treated with kid gloves and didn’t grow.

    1. jag*


      Part of the issue is how good is management in general in the organization. If a big shot forces you to hire a relative and isn’t even willing to hear that the relative doesn’t even care about internship, then that points to problems in the organizational culture/management that probably have other ramification as well. In which case, avoid hiring relatives since the organization has enough problems already.

      If the organization is well-run, and people can give feedback openly while also respecting decision-making boundaries, then relatives as interns are unlikely be a problem as long as they are screened in the normal way. And frankly, a kid who wants to be an intern where the parent works is likely to work quite hard at the internship.

    2. kitty*

      I wish more people thought like you!
      I worked as an intern in the same company as my father for a summer while I was in school, but did not work in his department and had no contact during the day. The people I interviewed with knew him and some had worked with him in the past, but there was never anything like “Oh, you’re John’s daughter? You’ve got this in the bag!”
      I was glad to work at the company as I was entering a similr field as my father, and in a very small town this employer was one of the only options to gain experience during the summer.

  16. Katie the Fed*

    I would specifically NOT bring in the children of the coworkers who are already giving you grief of pressure about this. They’ve already showed they’re not afraid to use their status to advance their kids’ interests – that’s enough of a red flag to me to stay away. If a coworker has said “the decision is completely up to you, and I’m going to stay out of it and all interactions you have with my little pumpkin” then I might consider their kid.

    1. MT*

      I would imagine that the parents are giving grief because they are hearing how other companies the parents are getting their kids the internships. This is not uncommon.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        That’s fine. But they’ve now demonstrated that they’re going to be difficult about it, so they/their kids are out of the running.

        1. MT*

          I dont know about difficult. The OP says that it wasnt sitting well with the parents. Speaking up about it once could be considered not sitting well, but not to the level of being difficult.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            We’ll have to agree to disagree since all we have is the OP’s own words. I interpret “this isn’t sitting well” as being difficult. You don’t.

        2. Mike C.*

          There’s a huge margin between asking about it and being difficult. And objecting to a sudden change in policy that appears to stem form the personal discomfort of a new hiring manager as opposed to documented issues isn’t “being difficult” either.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            But we don’t know that they just asked about it. All we can go on is the OP’s words – “this isn’t sitting well.” It sounds like we have different interpretations of what that means.

    2. LBK*

      Totally agreed. I’d have no problem considering the child of someone who made it clear they were able to conduct themselves appropriately throughout the hiring process – if you try to inject yourself into that, there’s no way in hell I’m hiring your kid so you can inject yourself into their work every day.

    3. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

      Exactly. They’ve already indicated they are willing to overstep professional boundaries.

      I’ve hired children of coworkers for home-related projects: yard work and summer nanny. Both situations turned out to be disasters for us because of the poor work done by these kids. Both were obstensibly adults (one was 18 and one was 20), yet each of their mothers stepped in and communicated directly with me about their children’s work. In one case, her son was handling communications with us just fine, but her momma bear tendencies came out and she sent me a long, ranty letter about how her sun toiled in the hot sun and came home exhausted — by interoffice mail. Totally inappropriate.

      The other situation, the mom stepped in because she could tell her daughter was doing a terrible job, like sleeping on the job. I was managing the situation (never thought I would need to tell someone that I wasn’t paying them to SLEEP while supposedly watching my children!).

      All of which to say, I now have a blanket rule, no hiring — in any capacity — any relative of a coworker. Ever!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I used to babysit for my mom’s coworkers, but I’m pretty sure my mom would have kicked my butt if I screwed up. I hate to be all “kids these days!” but seriously…. kids these days! :)

        A local high school allows seniors to “intern” at a local business for their last month of the school year – they match the kids in fields they’re interested in. A friend of mine took on one, and had to remove after two weeks. She was texting all day, sleeping at her desk, wouldn’t look up to greet customers coming in, would text while customers were talking to her, etc. My friend corrected her behavior each time because the idea is to prepare the kids for the working world, but it didn’t help. So she had to be sent back.

        1. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

          Not to continue the “kids these days!” theme, but for me personally, I would have been utterly mortified if my parents had inserted themselves into my relationship with my employer. I felt this way at 15, even before I was considered an adult.

      2. Artemesia*

        Years ago I hired the son of a co-worker to mow our lawn as he was trying to earn money for college. I came home to find my co-worker’s wife mowing our huge lawn in 95 degree weather because her son flaked out. It didn’t encourage me to hire children of friends.

  17. ali*

    I worked as not an intern but student worker in the university department that my dad was chair of, but I worked for the lab manager, not for him (she then reported to him). It was definitely awkward, but exactly as others have stated, I didn’t want to do anything wrong and have it get back to him.

    I was hired as the only student worker that summer, the expectation was that every student who had completed that summer’s field school and passed would have the opportunity to be hired if they wanted to be. I had passed that summer’s field school, so the opportunity was being given to me just as if I was any other student. It just so happened that I was the only one interested in the opportunity – all the others already had jobs in the town because they were full time students at the university. I was a student at a different university who was home for the summer and only took the field school because it would transfer to my university.

  18. Lore*

    I worked at my dad’s company for a couple of summers in high school, and here are the reasons I think it worked. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, even so.
    1) it was their idea, not mine or even my dad’s–each summer, they had a specific task that needed a temp of some kind (clearing out and reorganizing a file room, assembling a huge mailing, summarizing documents on a shareholder lawsuit the company was involved in) who had basic computer skills but didn’t need specific experience
    2) they were project-specific tasks supervised by people completely out of my dad’s reporting chain
    3) since I was in high school, there was zero expectation that this had any career-track implications for me (though I later learned that I’d essentially been doing paralegal work at one point and probably should have asked for more money!)
    4) I was getting paid what seemed like a huge amount of money to me (I think $7-8 an hour when minimum wage was around $3.50), so there was great incentive to do well and keep the job instead of going back to being a library page or babysitting!

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Ha, I just realized I had been an “intern” for my dad’s side business starting around age 10. My sisters too. We had to do filing, stuff envelopes, and even helped him canvas the surrounding neighborhoods leaving his info on their doorknob. We didn’t get paid much at all , maybe $1 here and there but if we hadn’t done a good job there sure woulda been hell to pay

  19. AW*

    OK, I love this bit: “…you can add, “To be honest, this is an example of what makes me uncomfortable about it.”

    By pushing you to interview their kid, they’re proving that they’ll be pushy about their kid if they’re hired.

  20. INFJ*

    I worked at the same company as my mother for 9 years- mostly in different (but interrelated) departments, but the last 9 months we worked together in the same department.

    My mother NEVER went to a supervisor “in my defense.” And I’ve had my share of mistreatments, as well as nothing but outstanding performance reviews.

    My mother and I are close, so we DID tell each other everything. But just because we’re related doesn’t mean we automatically absorb each other’s opinions. There were supervisors I couldn’t stand that she liked, and vice versa. Same goes for fellow coworkers. It was actually really nice to have someone close to listen to my frustrations and concerns, and provide an alternative perspective.

    She would give me advice, but understood that I am an Adult and therefore can make Adult Decisions myself. I can form opinions about other people by myself. And so can she.

    Interestingly, my mother is the quintessential “mother hen.” I will admit that she does think I’m amazing and still tells people I was the HS class valedictorian (I’m 30). But it didn’t interfere with our work because we are responsible, mature adults. I think if both the child and parent are mature and responsible (which hopefully you can discern in an interview), it would be worth considering the child if they’re qualified.

    But that’s just my experience. I just wanted to put it out there amidst the mound of assertions that parents and children working together is the worst idea.

  21. JHS*

    My first office job was working in my mother’s office for a couple of weeks to cover a maternity leave, but there were a few reasons that worked:

    1. My mom was my direct supervisor, and was not afraid to tell me when I was screwing up.
    2. Everyone knew they could tell me if I were doing something wrong and my mom would back them up.

    This is a very specific situation though. We’re all very aware that we’re responsible for the reputations of relatives who already work at a business and we were lucky my mom’s bosses knew this about us. Plus, my family does not recommend anyone for a job unless we actually know they can do it (my brother demanded a writing sample before he’d consider me for a job my degree had covered). But still, I know all this could have gone very wrong, so we were lucky we were in a good situation. I still don’t think it’s always the best way to go…

  22. Mockingjay*

    Speaking as someone whose Dad got her a summer job at his work (many years ago), it can be a great thing.

    I worked my beezus off because I didn’t want to let down my dad. At the end of the summer, my supervisor threw me a surprise farewell party and complimented me on being such a good worker.

    Generally, I think how well such hiring works depends on the particular business and its environment. My dad worked for the water and sewer agency in a large metro area. The size of the agency meant that there were numerous summer hires, and it was easy to place us in areas away from any familial connections. In a small business, such separation wouldn’t be possible.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      My dad got me a summer job too – working for him. I was in college and he was the boss. He paid me out of his own pocket – he said it was an investment in my professional skills so I would be employable. The other interns working in the office actually felt sorry for me. I even had to drive myself so I would learn to get to the office on time. Definitely the most exacting boss I ever had.

      1. Tau*

        My parents got me an internship at their workplace, although it was a different department. Apparently the reason I got it was because there were barely any or possibly *no* other candidates, since if there’d been any sort of competition taking me would have looked too much like nepotism… and they’d usually have seen about scrounging up some funds for it, but since I was the kid of a high-up in the organisation it wouldn’t have looked good and so it was unpaid.

        I look at some of the stories with employee’s kids getting preferential treatment or more raises and boggle…

  23. peanut butter kisses*

    I worked as a candy striper for three summers at the hospital where my mom was a big name in management. anyone who signed up for the program was accepted so I signed up. We have a common last name and do not look alike in the slightest bit so unless my mom introduced me as her daughter, most people didn’t know.

    I think the most awkward thing was having lunch with the nuns at the hospital. I really got along with them but as a teen, I wanted to sit with the other teens. It’s tough to wave off the nuns and walk by their table so you can go sit with your friends. Also, some of the doctors were as arrogant as all get out to the candy stripers and when my mom would tell me how nice Doctor So and So was, I would roll my eyes and tell her how he acted with the young high school girls who did the candy striping with me.

    There was one time though that I used the connection to my advantage though. One of the young interns was condescending to a group of us repeatedly over the summer. He kept asking us if we wanted to be a nurse, a teacher, a secretary, or just a housewife when we grew up (and this was a pattern with him) and I just let him know that I wanted to be a hospital CEO like my mother and did he know her? He did the fake smile routine the rest of the summer.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Ah I love that – it was probably good for your mom to know how some people really were – you were kind of an undercover spy :)

      Wasn’t one of the Sweet Valley High girls a candy striper? Elizabeth, obviously, since Jessica was the bad twin. I’m so sad that this is taking up valuable real estate in my brain :(

      1. Kelly L.*

        Jess would have become a candy striper too, though she would have just been doing it to meet hot doctors, and she’d have begged Liz to pretend to be her so she could go to the beach by the time a week was up.

        (Sadly, I don’t remember what actually happened, though I vaguely remember something about candy stripers.)

      2. Muriel Heslop*

        They both were – and Elizabeth got kidnapped by a creepy orderly! I immediately discarded any plans of being a candy striper. Scarring.

          1. Partly Cloudy*

            Looking back, it seems like some of the story lines were a little intense for pre-teens. Maybe they were good warnings? I remember in one of the books, Jessica sort of almost has a brush with date rape (the older college guy with the creepy molester stache on the cover art of the book…).

            1. Kelly L.*

              They were actually some of the milder books that were around, though! I remember there were “gritty” books where people had sex and sometimes abortions and such, and weepy ones where everybody had terminal illnesses, and so on–SVH was frothy by comparison!

              (And I can’t believe I remember this, but Pornstache was Lila’s brush with date rape, while Jessica almost got date raped by Bruce. I think.)

              1. Amanda*

                Actually (and *I* can’t believe I remember this), Pornstache was Jessica’s brush with date rape in one of the very first books. Bruce tried to take advantage of Elizabeth after she got into a motorcycle accident with Todd and her personality completely changed for one whole book. Lila was almost raped by stereotypical “nice guy” John Pffeifer, which I thought was actually pretty well done and true to life because no one believed he could do such a thing.

    2. Bekx*

      I just had to google what a candy striper was because I could not figure out what candy had to do with doctors and nuns!

      1. Tau*

        Same! I may have skimmed over the “at a hospital” part at first, thought peanut butter kisses’ job was to put stripes on candy canes or something and then gotten very confused as to what doctors had to do with the whole thing.

  24. Erin*

    I’ve been in this situation with my current role. I just smile and nod and tell ’em to send me a resume. If the kid doesn’t work out, I just say that I don’t talk about interviews – and I don’t. But I also make a point to give the student feedback if they interview poorly, or if something just isn’t a good fit for them. I view it as a professional courtesy to the student and to the parent, although the parent doesn’t always see it that way.

    OP: I’d make sure your boss is OK with your stance. If they aren’t OK with it, you may be setting yourself up for something.

  25. Cafe Au Lait*

    I worked as a student employee in the same office where my Mom taught. It worked fairly decently, except my MOM expected preferential treatment. She’d hand me stacks of photocopying at home that needed to be done by the time she arrived.

    All in all, it wasn’t too bad. The only awkwardness was the summer she quit. She realized she was making ~$20 less per credit hour than person with the least amount of experience. All because she left the workforce for several years when I was younger. My infant sister died, and toddler me was falling into pieces. So while it was a ‘choice’ by the definition that she ‘choose’ there really wasn’t a choice at all there. When she got back into the workforce, she had pretty solid teaching experiences at Big 10 universities, and developing a local company. The person with the least amount of experience had only taught in small venues (think volunteering in your kids classroom vs paid paraprofessional), but because her length of service time, she was considered ‘working’ whereas my Mom was not.

  26. Troy*

    My supervisor hired the daughter of an employee in our organization without even knowing it. The child performed okay during the interview but wasn’t outstanding, but we were in our second wave of interviews for this position and we were told by higher ups that we had to hire someone from this second group. This was her first professional job. On the first day she informed us that her mother worked for our organization but in a different department. We didn’t think much about it at the time. We knew her mother by reputation and we heard she was a good employee. There were almost immediate issues with our new employee. Within the first week we started catching her in lies and it when down hill from there. By the end of the first month she caused a major issue when she was given a project to work on, but had questions about how to complete it. Instead of coming to me or our supervisor she went to her mother. Her mother gave her information on how her department would complete the job and then our employee did it that way. When she turned in the work to us we were totally confused because the finished product didn’t make sense to us. We asked what happened and she told us that she had gone to her mother for help. We were dumbfounded. Her mother’s department and our department are completely different and don’t overlap in any way. Unfortunately my supervisor didn’t discipline her in any way and didn’t even explain why it was wrong for her to go to her mother with questions about how to do her job. As you can imagine it was down hill from there. Over the course of two very stressful years she never learned how to do any of the tasks associated with her position. Everything she did had to be double-checked. Whenever she was given a task to complete she would immediately speak to her mother about it. She and her mother texted, emailed, instant messaged, and spoke on the phone to each other most of the day. They also went on breaks together several times a day. Once my supervisor had enough she tried to start disciplining her but it backfired because our employee’s mother had her file a grievance. The 6 months after that were a completely stressful and soul draining time. Her mother would come up to our floor and make incredible inappropriate comments as she passed my cubicle and my supervisor’s office. She eventually had to be banned from coming on to our floor in the building. Once that happened our employee would just disappear for hours during the day without telling us where she was going or when she would return. She would be sitting at her desk one moment and gone the next and then we wouldn’t see her again for several hours. We later discovered that she was going downstairs and just sitting with her mother in her cubicle. She even accused us of bullying her because we were trying to get her to do her job and she accused another employee of theft. The theft accusation was investigated by an outside organization and proven to be a lie. Eventually she was let go because the investigation into her grievance showed that everything she complained about us doing to her was something we were in fact allowed to do in our attempts to get her to do her job. This didn’t go over well with her mother. The mother wrote a long rambling email to the highest exec in our office accusing everyone of being against her daughter and even got into a screaming match with another exec over the situation. Ultimately several lawyers had to get involved because of the claims they made. I was told that the mother retired several months after her daughter was let go. Apparently her actions on her daughter’s behalf tarnished the wonderful reputation that she had previously had. After this experience I would be very uncomfortable hiring the child of any employee again. In fact several months ago we were hiring for a different position and found someone we really liked. He was awesome in the interview and seemed really great. When we called his references one of them mentioned that his mother worked in our organization as well. He never mentioned that during the interview process, which is fine because I’m sure he wanted to get the job on his own merits, but we were definitely spooked. We ended up offering the job to him anyway, but he turned it down. We all breathed a sigh of relief when he rejected our offer. None of us wanted a repeat of what happened before.

    1. jag*

      “We ended up offering the job to him anyway, but he turned it down. We all breathed a sigh of relief when he rejected our offer.”

      I don’t understand why you would offer someone a job and not want them to take it. It doesn’t make much sense.

    2. simonthegrey*

      Conversely, I worked for a company with my mom for several years and she was the one who recommended me for the position. It was a family run business (not our family) and she was one of the customer service representatives (not exactly in charge, but sort of the go between for the CS reps and management). She recommended me as a product room attendant; basically customers would contact about issues with items they ordered online, and the CS agents would take the info and forward it to me, where I would fill those requests for parts. Mom and I talked constantly. The main thing is that I was more scared of my mom busting my butt than I was of my manager, and my mom is very professional. Everyone knew we were mother and daughter, but several of the CS agents (all of whom were my age or a little older) called my mom “Mom” even before I got there so me calling her that was unnoticed. I left that job on good terms to continue my education and my mom stayed there until the business ultimately closed. The one time I was disciplined (I had left out part of an order by accident, and it wasn’t a discipline so much as a reminder to double check and a checklist) my mom said nothing. So it can really depend on the dynamic between parent and adult child, and how professional both can be in the workplace.

  27. Just Visiting*

    I once had to work closely with the child of a coworker, not as an intern, but as a regular paid worker. It was a disaster. The child was terrible at his job and I constantly had to fix his mistakes. Couldn’t even take simple instructions. In retrospect I think he had a learning disability, and while I can sympathize to a point as I also have one, I’m a lot less sympathetic when I’m the one having to stay an hour late every day to fix his messes. And the mother was a mama-bear to the max, she was *always* hanging around the office the two of us shared, perhaps to make sure I wasn’t mistreating her baby. They also ate lunch together every day, had little side conversations, etc. If he hadn’t quit then I would have left that job. I’m also bitter because the same workplace refused to consider my spouse for a job due to our relationship (this happened before the child was hired).

    So yeah, I’m strongly in favor of blanket bans on this kind of thing, even for competent children. Just too much that can go wrong.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      This and Troy’s comment above strike me as very pathologically weird relationships between parent and child. I mean WOW, your job as a parent is to help your your kid become independent, not keep them a baby forever.

  28. voyager1*

    I have worked somewhere that during my time the rule of not hiring family members changed from no to okay. I saw managers who got their kids on board and well it changed how people felt about getting promoted and advanced. Morale took a hit over it. This was at a bank and the rule changed when a full time employee got another full time employee pregnant.

    So that being said, I can see where the LW is coming from.

  29. Cari*

    Don’t think you’re wrong at all OP. Wouldn’t it be nepotism anyhow, if you were to hire a colleague’s kid largely due to being related?

  30. Vanilla*

    In two instances I was forced to hire children of clients. Instance 1 – high school girl whose dad (a rather high-maintenance client) worked with our company. Instance 2 – a college guy whose dad (a really great, generally awesome person) was a client of ours.

    In a nutshell, instance 1 was nothing more than a glorified babysitting job for me. For example, our company went to a sporting event off-site and I was expected to babysit the high school intern. She ended up disappearing and got an earful from me later. I put my foot down about having her back the next summer.

    Intern 2 was a dream – did good work and I didn’t have to babysit him at all.

  31. Hannah*

    Just to offer a different perspective, I agree with many of the reasons given for not hiring a coworker’s child as an employee, but I don’t think it’s such a big deal for interns.

    I think interns are supposed to take more out of it than you are actually getting in work. Offering (I’m assuming unpaid here) internships to employees’ children so that they can get some work experience is almost like a perk for those employees, and I think if a company can manage it, it’s a nice program to have. If the student is a dud, there is already an ebd date put on it from the start, so you’re not stuck with them.

    But I understand that larger companies can probably do this easier than a small family business that actually needs to rely on its interns to produce a lot of work.

  32. Patty*

    Lots of companies have rules about hiring relatives of current employees, and there are good reasons for it.

    Many PhD departments won’t hire their own graduates for tenure-track positions..

    The underlying reasons are concerns about fairness, and the perception that the person didn’t deserve the position etc… Little Julie might be the best possible intern, but if the perception is that her parent or academic “parent” has influence, Julie doesn’t get to shine in her own right.

    Also, how would it work out if Sam’s kid wants the same job as Joe’s kid.. the interns are identical on paper, how do you choose among them? What if Sam is senior, but Joe’s kid is slightly better.. etc..

  33. Joey*

    Dont you think when you say no kids of employees you’re basically saying we don’t trust that you, our adult employee, can be an adult about it. Or that’s at least how many people I know would take it.

    Frankly, what Id do is tell the parent “I just want you to understand that Jimmy wI’ll have to compete with everyone else and won’t get any special consideration.”

    Then if the kid of an employee does get it you say “now I’m going to treat Jimmy like any other intern and not like he’s your son. So don’t expect for me to keep you in the loop. And I expect that you’ll let him deal with me directly without any intervention by you.”

    Frankly, if this turns out well I think this is a really good way to build more loyalty in knowing their kids has a good experience whether it’s successful or turns out to be a learning experience.

    And if you prefaced me that way I would make sure little Jimmy doesn’t embarrass me or tarnish my reputation at the company.

    1. Mike C.*

      Dont you think when you say no kids of employees you’re basically saying we don’t trust that you, our adult employee, can be an adult about it. Or that’s at least how many people I know would take it.

      You pinned down something that’s been bugging me about this whole thing – the policy change really does come off this way. It reminds me of when I was a kid and some other kid would do something and now suddenly everyone was punished or restricted in some way because of it. I didn’t screw up, and I have absolutely no control over the actions of the others but now I have to suck it up for no reason but the lack of creativity or willingness to confront the misbehaving child on the part of the adults in charge.

  34. Anonymous Educator*

    I’m actually a little confused as to why these parents are so keen on their kids getting this internship at the same company. There have been times where my partner and I have worked in the same place, and it’s been painful for me to remain professional with some co-workers who have sometimes treated her badly. I resisted the urge to say anything, because I wanted to remain professional. But resisting that urge was painful. I didn’t like seeing her treated badly. And I also didn’t want to be the annoying spouse who tried to intervene in something I professionally (as opposed to personally) had no business getting involved in.

    To each her own, I guess.

    1. Joey*

      Kids are different. Imagine your kid learning in your environment. Imagine your kid getting to see the culture and profession you work in. Imagine being able to relate to both the valid and not so valid frustrations your kid encounters at work. Imagine getting to have lunch with your kid every day. Imagine having some insider info that you can use to help your kid navigate probably his first professional experiences.

  35. Kimberly*

    The firm were I worked summers during university had a policy no kids of employees. That meant the year the partner’s kid was looking for summer job – he did not work at that firm. He did work in my Dad’s warehouse. Not his chosen field – but he learned about business from the bottom up – and learned why there are “stupid rules” like no rings being worn in the warehouse. Dad even took his off before stepping foot on the floor. When Dad was working the warehouse – a man lost his finger because his ring caught on a chain.

    The young man also noticed how Dad treated the warehouse workers as opposed to another executive and why the workers respected Dad and not the other guy. Valuable management lesson.

    If the letter writer knows of other companies in the area that are hiring interns, maybe that info could be given out to the parents that are trying to find jobs for their kids.

  36. Cassie*

    I had to hire my former supervisor’s teenage daughter one summer – the former supervisor had talked to my boss first about hiring the daughter without asking me, and my boss okayed it so I was kind of stuck with the daughter. It was awkward. Sometimes she wouldn’t show up – I’d find out later that either she stayed home and her mom had told her to let me know but she didn’t or that she was in fact in the building helping her mom out with some clerical work. Either way, I had no idea because the daughter never told me. And there wasn’t much work to do – I was used to handling everything myself and there wasn’t much filing/copying/faxing for her to do. She spent most of her time on the internet.

    We hadn’t submitted a “near relative” disclosure form (technically, they weren’t working together because the daughter was supposed to be working for me), but once the higher ups noticed the same last name in the payroll reports and raised questions about it, the supervisor got upset and said “forget it, she won’t work here then”.

    So fortunately it worked out for me in the end (really, it was only two weeks of awkwardness). I was pretty young, just out of college, not comfortable with being a supervisor. If my boss wants to hire someone’s teen kid as a student worker, can I really say no? But at least now, I think I’d be more prepared – actually have tasks ready for the kid to do, speak up if the kid is doing something wrong (like not showing up), etc.

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