Spotlight for Career Services Professionals, July 20, 2011
According to Tim Luzader, there are two primary types of helicopter parents: “attack helicopter” parents who hover around their children, swoop in, and take control of situations; and “traffic helicopter” parents who monitor what’s going on, but see the big picture and, in doing so, offer more gentle guidance.
“Attack helicopter parents are very intense and high-maintenance, and take up an inordinate amount of time [for career services practitioners],” says Luzader, director of the Center for Career Opportunities at Purdue University and a presenter at the NACE 2011 Conference on the topic of working with parents. “Fortunately, in my experience, traffic helicopter parents are far more common.”
Career services can establish productive and mutually beneficial relationships with all parents—helicopter or not. Luzader offers the following tips for working with parents:
- Publish career coaching tips for parents so that they can be appropriately helpful in the process.
- Engage parents as partners in service delivery.
- Engage parents as advocates for financial support of the office or as donors themselves.
- Glean insights from parents related to their career fields and have them present a workshop or be a panel member, especially if their fields are not represented on campus by other employers.
- Engage parents as contacts with their employer or client organizations.
- Identify and stay connected with key campus stakeholders that engage parents.
- Develop other communication vehicles for parents, such as e-newsletters and blogs.
- Get in front of parents through orientation programs.
- During parent “counseling” sessions, ask parents thought-provoking questions, perhaps about their relationships with their children, to gain a better understanding of the root of their involvement and then give parents a sense of how their own behavior reflects on their sons and daughters.
- Develop a parents’ section on your office’s website to provide resources about how they can be appropriately involved in their children’s career explorations and job searches.