job applicants’ parents keep calling me

A reader writes:

I work at a camp, with loads of seasonal employees. We just opened applications for staffing opportunities for teens age 14-17 and were flooded with hundreds of applicants who want to come do our dishes, haul trash, and chop firewood. This is a wonderful thing!

The problem is their parents, who regularly call for updates on their teens’ applications. We’re really too swamped with inquiries to respond to their (sometimes daily!) requests. But more importantly, I wish it was the teens themselves who called, not their parents.

I think most of these parents are still in “sign my kid up for camp” mode. They aren’t seeing this as a job. And since these are teens, we really need the parents on our side. I can’t afford to alienate them by being forceful about how inappropriate it is for them to call. What’s your advice – what can I say to parents like this?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Interviewing for a manager job where my team would be hired before me
  • Resigning during a hiring freeze
  • Are offers to stay in touch with old coworkers sincere?
  • I have to eat dinner with coworkers every night on business trips and I’m exhausted

{ 78 comments… read them below }

  1. Someone Else*

    “Thanks parent. We treat this like a job opportunity, so it’s more appropriate that the applicant themselves call.”

    1. Me*

      Little quibble on this language. It’s not like a job opportunity; it IS a job opportunity. If going with something similar to your script it should say “As this is a job opportunity, the applicant themselves needs to call.”

      1. LTL*

        This is true, but “like a job opportunity” softens the language in a way that can make it easier for the parent to digest.

        1. gyrfalcon*

          The parents may be babying their children, but there’s no need for the OP to baby the parents in turn.

          Telling them it *is* a job opportunity is more likely to get them to understand reality.

          Telling them it’s *like* a job opportunity allows the parents to continue to think it’s just a play pretend job and their children are still babies playing “let’s only pretend to do responsible things.”

    2. Malarkey01*

      I’d be interested to know how this camp actually operates, especially with 14 year old hiring. My son is interested in a camp where he’d be a counselor in training at 14. There’s an application process to see if he gets chosen, but it is like signing him up for camp. We have to fill out parental consents, medical, insurance forms, and all kinds of different waivers. He also can only “work” a few hours a day as a 14 year old (he’s actually a middle schooler), but he’ll be living at the camp and participating as a camper when not “working”. While he gets paid for those hours, we’re actually paying room and board and activity fees for the non-work hours. It’s a weird hybrid, so with that in mind I think some of these parent calls might not be so outlandish if this is the normal setup in the area for this or other camps.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I was wondering about this too, but as my camp knowledge is mostly limited to things I learned from reading the Babysitters’ Club, I’m glad someone with real knowledge asked it!

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Yep, I worked in a day camp that had a very similar set-up, where kids from 13-15ish were hired as counselors in training for half of the time and then formed their own camp group and participated as campers the other half. Parents might be pressuring the OP because they are trying to fill their kid’s time and would, for example, enroll their kids in another camp *as campers* if they don’t get a job offer (as opposed to doing a different job all summer as a college student would). Given that many camps operate this way, OP should be super transparent that this is a more “traditonal job” job, and ideally provide a clear timeline for finding out whether their kid is hired or not.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        I would say that if the parents are required to fill out the application, it’s appropriate for them to communicate with the camp. If the adolescent can fill out the application themselves, do the job interview themselves, and maybe there’s a final form the parents have to sign because they area minor, the adolescent should be communicating.

  2. Elizabeth West*

    Re the parents calling:

    Since the job is targeted to teens, maybe the OP’s camp could put something in the job post itself addressing that. Perhaps something along the lines of, “Dear applicants, We appreciate your interest in working at our camp! We receive tons of applications for these jobs, and we’ll do our best to respond as soon as we can. If you haven’t heard anything in a couple of weeks, we encourage you, the candidate, to follow up. It’s good practice for later job searches.”

    Or whatever language you think is appropriate. I realize the parents may be the ones to read the job post initially. But it might not hurt to include a suggestion implying Hey mom and dad, let them do this because they’re the ones applying, not you, and they’re going to have to do it later anyway.

    1. OyHiOh*

      Based on experience working in an organization that hires students, I don’t think there’s any problem in explicitly saying “hey mom and dad, let your student do this.” Laying out a time line and encouraging the student/applicant to follow up in appropriate, professional ways lowers the barrier to entry and helps teach the student from the beginning how to function in an employer/employee relationship.

      1. Loosey Goosey*

        This is a great opportunity to directly lay out the expectations without offending people because your direct audience is teens, who are not assumed to understand professional norms, but you’re reaching their parents by extension. I like the idea of setting out a timeline (ie, you can reach out via email if you haven’t heard from us after x weeks) – just be sure to stick to it or people will keep calling.

      2. AnonMedix*

        As a parent who has a teen waiting right now to hear about a job, I can totally under Both sides of this problem.
        I think that for younger teens, the parent is often very affected by the teen taking on a job and need to make arrangements with their own work and scheduling to get the teen to work.
        For me, I’ll need to drive my teen 45 mins each way at the weekend and once in an evening (no buses unfortunately) . I need to let my own work know exactly when I can cover my shift 6 weeks in advance but my son won’t hear from this seasonal workplace until 2 weeks before.
        I asked him to follow up and he got a very generic response, which is cool, but a when I followed up I got a much firmer start date etc.

        Yeah… that’s a ramble. Sorrry .
        Tldr – a teens job often affects a parent job. Often parents get better info out of seasonal work organisers.

        1. PollyQ*

          Is this really that different than a spouse following up on their partner’s behalf, though? Often they’re affected by scheduling and driving issues as well.

          1. Jennifer*

            I think you’re missing the point here. When a parent calls they are more likely to be taken seriously than a teenager is. It may not be fair, but I can definitely see that as a reason why the kid wasn’t getting a firm answer. With two adult spouses they should be able to handle their job issues themselves.

            Yes, teens should be learning to do some of this stuff themselves but at the same time they are still kids and occasionally a parent will need to step in.

        2. D3*

          That does NOT mean you can interfere in the process. Lots of families juggle things, and I just barely sent my youngest to college, so I’ve been in the thick of parenting teens for the last decade, and never, ever would I have overstepped like that. Even when it made things tricky on my end. It’s just not okay to helicopter like that.

        3. Me*

          In this case it would be better to coach the child on how to get needed information not calling yourself. The reason you got a firmer start date likely has less to do with you being the parent and more to do with asking the right questions in the right way with the right context.
          I’ve been in your shoes and still never would have called my child’s employer. It was always on her to get the information.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yup – when I was a teen employee my parents only called once my employer for me – because I was too busy throwing up to hold a conversation. I think just like you shouldn’t call your spouse’s job (except for an illness where they can’t talk for some reason), also you should not call your teenaged kids boss (except for the same too sick to talk reason).

          2. AnonMedix*

            Cool. Good to hear the feedback. I’m struggling badly with juggling my shifts at the hospital and trying to help my son. He’s becoming really depressed with online school and strict lockdown and the-idea of this job in the outdoors was the light at the end of the tunnel for him.
            The work he wants to do said the kids would hear back mid November…. but we heard nothing. He called them on the 20th, got someone who didn’t really know what was going on. So although I didn’t want to interfere, we needed to know what was going on so I could cover shifts.
            I apologized to the organizer for calling and explained why. Turns out, I’d me him while I was treating his family member recently , so we had a nice talk and all was well.

            1. AnonMedix*

              Last thing – my teen daughter has a job at a local supermarket and I wouldn’t have dreamt of calling there to talk with the supervisor.
              I guess I set a lower level of contact for this job because it’s for 14-18 year olds and run as a community-type camp thing at the local college. My son is 14.

            2. DeepDarkBlue*

              I hope the job prospect buoys your son and lifts him out of his current, depressive feelings. And I hope the stress you’re feeling from guiding him while you’re working in healthcare during COVID begins to lessen.
              You sound like a great mom.

          3. LTL*

            To be fair, I don’t think it’s unlikely that the employer was being unprofessional and took the teen less seriously “because they’re a teenager.”

        4. Junior Assistant Peon*

          Your teenage kid has a 45-minute commute?! That’s for when you’re pigeonholed into some narrow field as an adult professional.

          1. Sasha*

            Depends on traffic as well – my high school, in the next town over from my rural village, was 3 miles away, which took 11 mins in no traffic, but 45 mins in rush hour traffic. Lots of commuters all going the same way, and only one road in and out of town.

          2. AnonMedix*

            Normally I wouldn’t want to do a 45 min commute each way at all. But I need to get him to a nearby ski hill so he can do this job. Skiing is his great love and anything I can do to lift him out of this sadness he is in (online school, can’t see friends etc) would be wonderful.

            I can totally see how all this seems helicopter-y as a parent. But I’d usually identify as the opposite. My daughter found and kept a job for past 3 years without my help (from age 13)

            This job for my son isn’t even potentially a ‘proper’ job. They haven’t posted anything about pay/hours etc. Its an assistant type thingand I’d had a lot of contact in the past with the staff there. So perhaps that’s why I finally broke and intervened, because it didn’t feel like I was imposing on a Fortune 500 company. But I can totally see that if every parent did this it would be frustrating so lesson absolutely learned.

    2. Greg*

      In the job posting have 2 numbers listed. One for parents to call. One for applicants. Have both go to voicemail. But only check the second one.

  3. Ann Furthermore*

    LW5: I travel a fair amount for work (or did, before COVID upended everything). I’d be perfectly content to order takeout every night and enjoy some downtime in my hotel room, but there is an expectation when you’re travelling with colleagues that you’ll all have dinner together. I’ve gotten to the point where I have no problem having dinner with the group a couple nights, and then having my alone time a couple nights. I’ll say something like, “I’m going to take a pass on dinner tonight and order in, but I’ll see you guys in the morning,” and then smile and tell them to have a nice evening. If need be, I also say that I enjoy the alone time and being able to watch whatever I want on TV without my husband, daughter, or the dog interrupting my solitude.

    There are times when it’s not possible though. If it’s a quickie trip, dinner is usually spent reviewing the day’s events and planning for the next day. Or, a company VP may show up for some reason — checking in with the client, maybe a meeting with another customer in the same city — and will want to take the team out to dinner. Things like that are the times when I feel like I can’t say no.

    1. Imprudence*

      My (limited sand out of date) experience is that exercise is often a good excuse as in “No I am going for a swim / a run and then I will eat much later”. People respect your athletic commitment and don’t take it as a personal rejection.

    2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Same here. Sometimes dinner is work (or just a break and work will continue afterwards), so tough it out.
      On an audit team, for example, dinner is usually used to consolidate and weigh findings as we are rarely out of the auditee’s earshot during the day – we grab a bite at the hotel, compare our notes, and call it a day. These days are usually intense so no much energy left for partying afterwards anyway.
      On other projects, there may be a dinner or two with the client or coworkers from the local office.
      Most evenings are my own – meaning a walk and usually some sandwiches and an Arnold Palmer at the hotel, a book or TV, and an early night – especially when jetlagged again (worst I had was 80 hours in the air in one month, all the continents except Africa and Antarctica, three non-working days the whole month).

    3. Umiel12*

      When I travelled a lot, my manager would expect the whole team to have breakfast and dinner together when he travelled with us. He expected us to do all after-hours activities together. For example, he wanted to go to a casino, and he was really miffed when I said I was going to do something else. I went along with dinners together for a little while, but I fairly quickly just started letting people know that I had other plans and would see them tomorrow. I think some people thought I was being anti-social, but most of them didn’t care.

  4. Artemesia*

    I had to deal with pushy parents for decades; the more matter of fact you are the better. If you have tons of applications then just telling any caller/emailer that you can’t respond to individual follow ups until finalists have been contacted is fine and also matter of factly saying that once finalists are notified, the applicant can touch base. When parents push it is ‘This is a job application and so we cannot speak to anyone but the applicant about the job’ as if it is the law or firm policy. you CANNOT speak to the parents. You can throw in that this is also good skill building for their later adult job searches, but those same. pushy parents are the ones who will also call their new employer and yes I have known of a few of those.

  5. OyHiOh*

    I was staff at a non profit that did this sort of thing, hiring young teens as camp assistants (and older teens as camp intructors and councilors). The managing director did a very good job of clearly explaining to everyone involved that this was a job opportunity for the students. They wanted to employ the students, and were willing/able to work with teens who might struggle to apply and interview in more traditional summer jobs (witness the kid on the ASD spectrum who eventually became a camp councilor and was very good at it) but the students *had to* practice professional norms with resumes, interviews, and references. (And an onboarding/training process that everyone had to attend, regardless of if they’d been hired in previous year or not – the training process seemed to cement, for a lot of parents, that this was a “real” job.) Note that the interviews were often more like interview coaching sessions, but they dressed for an interview and arrived on time for an appointment to interview.

    The thing was, by making this very clearly a job opportunity with a job description and formal process, it kept most of the parents out of the process. I’m sure there were still some parents calling the manager about hiring their kid, but by treating the whole thing as a formal, real job process, most parents understood, and stayed out of the way.

  6. Foreign Octopus*

    Re: letter one and the parents calling the job to chase for updates, I have a question from the parents’ perspective.

    A lot of the advice on AAM is tailored towards submitting an application and then putting it out of your mind – they’ll contact you or they won’t – and when people do contact the hiring manager, it can be seen as pushy. If you were giving advice to a parent about how to help their child through the application process of their first job, how would you balance teaching them application norms but also encouraging them to be pro-active in chasing up feedback?

    1. Anononon*

      Feedback on what? Applications you sent? There isn’t anything to teach your kid there, because it’s not something they should do. However, you can still teach your kid how to otherwise advocate for themselves in life.

      1. Veronica*

        There are situations where you should absolutely follow-up on an application. I had a contact submit my resume for a job. I didn’t hear anything for a month and contacted him to see if the position was still open. Turns out he forget to forward my resume. He forwarded it and I got an interview that week.
        I think the trick is to know what type of job it is and what the process is for contacting applicants. If you’re applying through an automated system, there is nothing you can really do to follow-up. If you apply in person or have a contact at the company, it’s okay to ask if you don’t hear anything for a few weeks, especially if you were told you would get an answer. Be direct and respect their time. And follow-up very sparingly. In my case I saw the contact weekly and asked about the job during a normal conversation.

        1. Sleepy*

          I agree that there are times when following is 100% appropriate and necessary even if it’s not a popular opinion on this blog.

          I would say that if a person is applying as one of hundreds or thousands–for a large company or a mass search as in the camp counselor example–do not bother following up. But the smaller the organization, or the more niche the opportunity, the more following up is reasonable because they are less likely to have a professional HR department, they’ll be more flexible, and they’re also more likely to have dropped the ball accidentally.

          An example: My husband is a volunteer on the board of a nonprofit where he was managing the hiring of some paid interns. The internship was very niche and the number of total applicants was less than 20. They got an applicants who did not fit their usual successful intern profile and were initially not planning to interview her. However, she wrote a very professional follow-up email reiterating her really strong interest in the internship, and they decided to interview her, where she wowed them and was hired.

          1. Recruiting Assistant*

            I work in a small, niche-offering organization and follow ups are often a detractor – our hiring processes are slow and made worse by COVID-related staff cuts. We have clear instructions to email if there’s been no response in a certain time frame, and we do want to keep candidates in the loop… The worst was someone who got frustrated with my standard response to his email, found our ED’s mobile online, and phoned to complain about it. They would have been an excellent candidate, but were rejected based on going full Karen.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Alison also has posts about when it is ok to follow up, as well as how to ask for feedback on the application. As for how you should act as a parent – with teens, you need to be shifting to an advisory role anyway. Even if they make mistakes. That’s how we learn and grow, and you as the parent would be doing your nearly adult child a serious disservice to get in the way of them failing. Let them fail and make mistakes while the stakes are still low.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I wouldn’t. The advice for adults is the same as for the teens, except I’d expect the teens to have even less of a sense of it up front. There is no need for any applicant to do chasing up.

  7. staceyizme*

    You can add a screener to the automated answering message, if your telephony system permits it: “please dial 1 for employment inquiries… we are unable to respond to requests for the status of an application… all qualified applicants will be contacted if their skills match a current opening…”. And then you can follow up via email with “thank you, but no thank you…”, “we are impressed, and will let you know if we have an opening…” and “our manager will contact you to arrange an interview time…”.
    Or- tell them you can only reply by text from the applicant themselves, and then use autotext to reply to inquiries as outlined above, if it’s simpler.

  8. Aquawoman*

    Re LW 1 it also seems to me that there is a security issue with giving out info about teenagers to someone who calls with questions about them without a way to verify the person’s identity.

    1. OkapiFeels*

      This is something I’ve become more aware of since coming upon the horrifying stories online of estranged parents and grandparents. I supervise teen volunteers, and it’s definitely something I think about when I’m giving out information, though I don’t really have access to any sensitive information.

  9. Anon too*

    Yeah, all of the high school employees we have, their parents call all the time about schedules and scheduling changes. It blows my mind, but isn’t my area to get involved with. Apparently, this is happening with older kids too. Our office manager regularly calls retail businesses to ask if they are hiring and get applications for her 19-year-old daughter. Checks up on them too. I’ve gently mentioned this isn’t a good idea, but she persists. Of course, she also deals with the high school kids schedule, so maybe she thinks this is normal?

  10. agnes*

    My dad is still calling on behalf of my 43 year old brother..probably why he is still unemployed!

    Seriously, you won’t be able to stop parents calling–at least the first time. What you can do is educate them. We hire high school and college students. Whenever a parent calls, we give the parent the spiel of we can’t/won’t talk to you, and then send a follow up email to the student applicant to let them know their parent called, explain our policy and ask them to contact us directly if they have questions or things to discuss. I’ve had several applicants call to apologize for their parent’s “meddling” —parents take note!

    1. borne*

      Your poor dad. At this point he is probably desperate for your brother to finally get a job and move out of the family home.

  11. CJ*

    Re #3’s hiring freeze: I’ve worked in higher ed for my entire adult life (yes, my “normal” is not), and most have had localized or full hiring freezes at one point or another. In all cases, if a critical position because understaffed or unstaffed, even an university’s HR (always notoriously bureaucratic) could find its way to thawing the hiring for that role. You do you, OP, and the company will sort it out.

    (The cynic in me also wants to add they would have no qualms about firing you during a freeze if it became necessary.)

    1. Me*

      Local government here. Just concurring that hiring freezes traditionally have a process for applying for an exemption to the freeze to fill a position. Should the business decide not to do so, it’s on them.

    2. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Yup, my university is officially under a “hiring freeze,” but there’s still positions posted on their job board. What a “hiring freeze” means in practice right now (for my institution) is that you need to go through an extra step to get permission from a higher-up administrator before you can get the job opening posted. It was explained to us staff that the institution wants to make sure that the funding for the position is secure before someone is hired into the role.

      Exceptions can be made!

    3. ElleKay*

      Yes, right. And if there are suddenly 2 empty positions (you and your colleague) they’re more likely to unfreeze to fill one -or possibly a hybrid role- if that’s a more substantial impact to operation than having only 1 empty position

  12. Janet*

    My son has worked at a summer camp for a couple of years. When I first emailed the head of the camp about job information — when my son was 14 — he politely told me he only deals directly with the teenagers so that they treat it like a normal job. Or something in that vein. It was polite but quite clear that he doesn’t respond to parents. I personally thought that was great and I have never contacted him again. My son managed everything. I suspect this is part of his screening process to find teens who are mature and responsible enough to manage the application process appropriately themselves.

  13. blink14*

    I worked at a camp for years, first as a CIT (counselor in training) and then as a full employee. The CIT program was actually paid for by the camper/their family, you worked a half day and then did camp activities for a half day. Typically a CIT was 13-15 years old, and your parents were ultimately responsible for you and were also the paying customer. Essentially they were paying so that you could work, it’s a little weird.

    Once I became a full time counselor, the camp’s protocol still involved your parents at some level until you were 18, particularly if you traveled on the camp’s transportation options. I was a full time employee for the summer, but my parents still had to submit certain paperwork, sign off on my transportation option, etc.

    On the flip side, at my first full time job out of college, I was responsible for managing and hiring a seasonal retail pop up. We hired a group of local high school students every year, and I worked with the high school guidance counselor to identify potential candidates and then had to submit work papers for students under a certain age – generally we hired 15-18 year olds, but occasionally a 14 year old would be hired as well. We rarely had any involvement with their parents, but there was an adult supervisor at the high school, the counselor, which was required by law.

    I think now parents may be too involved in their kids lives and their first jobs. Maybe when conducting interviews or sending out job related correspondence, make it totally clear that inquiries about pending job applications must be made by the applicant. However, if a kid is 14, I think there’s some wiggle room there for a parent to call instead.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I got my first job when I was 15 through my parents – they were contracted to deliver a service to a warehouse which needed admin support and I got a job at the weekends doing that. I am now certain that it was not legal. No employment licence (something I have had to apply for on behalf of children, as an adult) and I’m fairly sure I was being paid under the table too. It’s the only time my parents have ever been involved in anything like that though. I don’t even remember them having much input into my university applications. There’s definitely a balance to be struck.

      1. blink14*

        For sure – the camp I worked at I had also been a camper at, which was the case with most CITs, so our parents were already involved with the camp for at least a couple of years by that point. There was a group of us that transitioned to full time counselors, and it was pretty rare that the camp hired anyone new under the age of 18 (most of the lead counselors were in education and working over the summer).

        Summer camps can have very particular, insular cultures that are quite different from other jobs for teenagers like retail, service industries, etc.

  14. BelleMorte*

    In an extreme example of why parents helping constantly is a bad idea..

    I had a friend when I was younger whose mother would insist on organizing EVERYTHING for her, job applications (mom filled them out), setting up references, schedules (including university time-tables, registrations, talking with professors, I suspect she also did her homework etc), she arranged her drivers licnece, paid her credit card, filled gas in her car did maintenance, cooked, cleaned, refused to allow her to move out. It was attach helicopter on steroids, my friend protested, and her mom was always “oh sweetie, you can’t handle that, let mommy help”

    Then the day she turned 25 a week and a half after graduating from college, her mother announced that Mom-Help was now closed and she was an adult and was expected to do it all herself from now on, and she had a week to find a new place to live.

    She had ZERO idea how to do the most basic things, no idea how to look for a job, create a resume etc. It was absolutely awful for her to try to cram 15 years of basic human development into a few weeks of figuring out how to do things. Her mom outright refused to even give her any tips at all. IN-SANE.

    Interestingly her daughter (with a lot of help from friends) eventually figured things out, but every time she had a milestone, mommy would try to jump in and take over (getting married, you cant handle that, let mommy help, having a child, mommy needs to move in and help). To her benefit, she managed to resist all of these “offers” of help and managed on her own.

    These parents do not do their kids any favours.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      OMG! Why did Helicopter Mommy suddenly decide to crash the helicopter though?
      >>>Because typically they never stop, sometimes all through life even.

      I grew up totally the opposite way. By the age of about 13, I realized I was much smarter and more advanced than my parental units. I had a job at 14 and basically did everything myself from then on out (chores, cooking, bills, credit cards, car, college, etc.), mainly just living at the house until graduation. At 18 I moved out completely. But I do think in the 70’s and 80’s kids were expected to grow up a little faster. Other friends were basically kicked out of the house at 18 after graduation as you were considered an adult of legal age. Back then you could also get decent paying jobs without college degrees though too.

      1. Littorally*

        Pendulum pattern? People who were young adults in the 70s and 80s and got tossed out on their butts now turning around and deciding they’re most definitely not going to do that for their kids, and instead wind up helicoptering and giving them an extended childhood/adolescence?

        1. BelleMorte*

          Interestingly my friend was a GenX and her mom was a boomer, so it was a really weird dynamic considering the rest of us were basically latchkeys.

          My friend did flip her upbringing for her own daughter to a point. Her daughter is about 10 right now, can cook a full dinner, has a bank account already, knows how to do basic construction things using drills and screwdrivers and is really quite sufficient so it’s interesting to watch how she is determined to give her a more self-sufficient education while still supporting her when she needs help. Anything she expresses interest in, my friend happily teaches her how to do it, and if she doesn’t know, they learn together. It’s quite nice.

          1. allathian*

            Your friend is a great example of how well things can work out sometimes even when the parental units screw up pretty badly.

        2. Cat Tree*

          I definitely think parents on average are more involved now and that’s not necessarily even a bad thing, but I think class and finances also play a part. I graduated high school in the early 00’s, and I definitely knew of kids that had to leave right at 18. They were usually kids who didn’t plan to go to college and had already been working for years. My best friend at the time moved in with her boyfriend and got married young because her mom just couldn’t afford for her to stay in their home.

          I think some of it also practicality, since college is so expensive now it’s just unrealistic to expect most people to work their way through college without family support. So I think more parents are willing to support their kids longer because it’s the only way college is feasible.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yes, overall I learned most life skills during adolescence, and my university was apparently a unicorn in that it had really good career services. But one small thing I somehow missed out on was basic home repair, like plumbing and HVAC maintenance. Thankfully Google has everything I need, but it can be a little frustrating or intimidating. Now that I’m a homeowner this has become more important. Whenever I have a problem with a toilet, I usually turn off the water and worry about it for a day or two while using the other one in my house. Then I Google it and it only takes between 2 and 20 minutes to fix it. It’s just a weird hurdle that I have to get over each time.

      I’m pregnant now and it’s definitely something I want to teach my child while they’re young. I don’t want something this simple to seem mysterious.

  15. Some Lady*

    1: “It is our expectation that the application materials will represent the sole work of the applicant, and that the applicant will take the lead in all communication relating to this position. We understand that for most applicants this will be one of their first experiences in the professional world, and we encourage them to seek guidance from parents and other trusted adults as they take on this task.” Possibly add, if your institution has a focus on learning/education: “By taking ownership in the application process with guidance from others, teenagers can use this application experience to build real-world skills they’ll need in college and beyond.”

    Put this in the job app and whatever initial response you have to each applicant. And maybe link to AAM since parents’ advice is notoriously out of date!

  16. Chc34*

    When I was a teenager my mother called a local restaurant and got me a job interview entirely without my knowledge and I wish they’d told her they would only speak to me directly. I encourage everyone to not hold parental interference against the teenager, since honestly a lot of them probably don’t even know or want their parents to be doing it in the first place.

  17. WFH with Cat*

    To LW #3, resigning during a hiring freeze – You’ve already put off starting at your new job for at least 60 days, and that’s not even counting the 30-day notice you intend to give? To be honest, I’m shocked as all get-out that your employer-to-be hasn’t pushed back and asked you to commit to a start date. So, yes, definitely, give notice now! You won’t be injuring your current employer, and it sounds like you’ve been working hard to make this career change, so there is absolutely no reason to delay. Best of luck in the new job!

  18. MissDisplaced*

    3. Resigning during a hiring freeze
    Give your notice and don’t feel guilty! If you are able to (and want to) you may certainly give a slightly longer notice than the standard 2 weeks, but you’re not obligated to do so. In fact, I generally think exceptionally long notices aren’t always better because the company doesn’t always see you as being “gone,” and may in fact drag their feet on getting a replacement.

    And here’s the thing: Even if there is a “hiring freeze” on, it does not always include positions that become open due to employees leaving. If they company needs it enough, they will find a way to pay for it! We just had that happen when a person left for an internal role in another division. Even with a hiring freeze we can hire to fill/replace his role, as it was an essential role. So, really, this isn’t for you to worry about darling.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      The word “prudent” is doing a lot of work in OP3 (she “didn’t think it would be prudent” to give her notice as well, when she first wanted to) and that stood out to me.

      Maybe things are different in other places but in my experience a “hiring freeze” applies across the board, whether that’s new positions, recruiting people to replace people who have left, etc. The idea is that the organisation ‘organically’ (!) retracts its spending on staff due to a combination of not filling open positions and not approving new positions.

      In that way, the “unfilled” (but still extant) positions on the org chart are the first to be eliminated in layoffs, with the PR upside (such as it is!) when wider layoffs are announced, that “some of you can keep your jobs when you wouldn’t have otherwise, because we’ve eliminated the already vacant positions first and that has given us some headroom”!

      I have seen this happen across 4 different organisations, a total of about 10 individual layoff phases.

    2. Uranus Wars*

      This has been my experience as well. “Hiring Freeze” at the orgs I have worked out means not adding additional headcount, but allows for filling positions that become vacant during the freeze for various reasons (a separation, a retirement, etc.). I have only worked at 3 organizations that instituted a hiring freeze, though, so I realize my experience is not going to indicative of all orgs.

      I would also agree that employees should not feel obliged to stay…just like almost anything there will always be a reason not to do something. A big project, a busy time of year, a hiring freeze, an interim managers. You just gotta do you! Take the opportunity and run!

  19. Minnie Mouse*

    There is never going to be a “good time” to leave this job. My last job was pretty toxic (Boss used that Sick Systems essay as a playbook) and I gave my notice immediately after another person at my level did. Our position did almost all the money generating work and direct client service similar to being lawyers at a law practice. There were only a couple other people in the same position and it usually takes a while to fill these positions because it’s hard to hire locally due to the specificity of the job. We gave notice after our insane time of year was over and actually got scolded for quitting during a quiet time because Boss said “no one looks for a job this time of year.” Except Boss hired both of us during the slow season and that’s when many people actually are looking for new positions. Nothing but indentured servitude would have been sufficient for them.
    Do what’s best for you and don’t give it a second thought.

  20. FormerStaffing*

    i once worked at a staffing agency, and i regularly got calls that went something like this:
    parent: i see you offered my little susie $9/hr, but the ad said $9-12/hr and i think my susie is the best thing since sliced bread and deserves the $12/hr!
    me: ma’am, the hourly range commensurates with experience. she recently graduated from high school and has very little office experience. secondly, she is legally an adult, and we do not negotiate with parents. if susie feels her qualifications warranted the higher wage, then she should have brought this up herself at her interview.


    I deal with this problem when hiring teen volunteers as well. I just tell them that I can only discuss the application with the applicant.

  22. aTiredMillenial*

    LW#1 – given how often I hear from “adults” (people over 50) that we should be calling people and just walking in for job applications, I’m pretty sure they’re doing it without asking their kids. A lot of people over 50 have a hard time believing that it’s normal to get NO response to job applications now if you’re not hired, and insist that we should be calling to check up on applications.

    I’m sure their teens would be mortified.

    1. Nanani*

      Remember that the kids may not know their parents are doing this, and may not be able to stop mom and dad from meddling even if they do know. Target your message at the helicopter parents and don’t hold it against the teens!

  23. SarahKay*

    OP#4, In my experience at work when someone leaves that we’re glad to see gone the farewells are all about “Good luck in the new job” and then … stop. No mention of ‘come back and see us’ or ‘stay in touch’. None of us are mean enough to say anything implying we’re glad to see them go, but we also don’t say we want to keep in touch.

    I think if they are asking you to stay in touch, especially if several of them have said it, then they mean it, and would be happy to meet you for coffee (or suitable Covid alternative). It doesn’t necessarily mean they will initiate anything because people are people, and life gets in the way (or they don’t want to bother you when you’ve just started a new job), but they’re usually pleased if you suggest something. From there, just see how it goes when you actually meet.

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