When I first read this article by Danny Rubin, I had a good chuckle. I always had this challenge with my career! Try explaining being a Legislative Assistant for a U.S. Senator to your parents! I read about certain issues, worked with legislative committees, answered constituent mail, and participated in town hall meetings…. And, yes, they did pay me to do those things!
I don’t know if things ever improved in my explanations as I moved into the business and entrepreneurial world, but they always supported me in what I did and seemed proud. What more can you ask for?
Anyway, enjoy this article by Danny Rubin. It may help you as you explain what you do to your parents!
Guest Post by Danny Rubin
If your parents are anything like Robert Samuelson, they’re worried about you.
Samuelson, a syndicated columnist, wrote a piece recently in which he hoped his kids turn out OK despite our difficult economy.
“I have three 20-somethings, and although all are now gainfully occupied in jobs or school, I am awash in anxiety about their future. Will jobs be there? Will they be stable? Will they pay enough? Will they encourage our children to start families of their own?”
The less parents know about our jobs, the more nervous they become. And as seemingly every job becomes more technical and digital, it’s like we speak a different language from our moms and dads.
That’s why, when people ask your parents what you’re doing with your life, all they can muster is “I’m not sure exactly. I think it’s something with computers?”
Why should our parents know what we do at work?
– They won’t keep asking (as much).
– They won’t worry about our wellbeing (as much).
– They may even help with networking; you never know who they’ll bump into.
Keep in mind these five key points, and your parents will finally understand what the heck you do all day.
1. Your parents won’t “get it” right away
I work in PR and have defined “hashtag” for my parents at least five times. Eventually, some recent hashtag comes up in conversation, and they inevitably ask “Can you tell me what a hashtag is again?”
From what I’ve gathered, Baby Boomers cannot seem to wrap their heads around our handy Twitter tool. In short, be patient.
2. The simpler, the better
Don’t waste your breath explaining how you work with tools like Google+ Hangouts, join.me and Basecamp. Our parents are familiar with Google, yes, but only as way to find stuff on the Web. In fact, some parents might think Google is the Internet and not a way to explore the Internet.
Instead, stick to the basics.
You: At work, our team does a lot of projects together and sometimes we collaborate with people outside the office too.
Your Mom: Oh, that’s so nice!
3. Compare your job to something from the 70s
You: So you know how people used to call and ask if you want to list your business in the Yellow Pages?
Your Dad: Right, OK. I’m with you.
You: Well, my job is kind of like that, except instead of the Yellow Pages, I’m building an app that collects business names and then cross-references the businesses with social media chatter, user behavior and reviews from about 20 different sites. Does that make sense?
***Five long seconds of silence***
Your Dad: Um, I think so. Can you explain “hashtag” one more time?
4. No need for devices
Bear in mind our parents did not have sleek laptops and WiFi in their 20s. Or Tinder.
Also, isn’t it incredible people got married 30 years ago without the Internet?
Anyway, the more technology you need to explain your job, the faster you will confuse your folks. Once you open up a phone or tablet and start zipping around, your dad is going to resign himself and say something like “You know, when I was your age…”
…and the moment is gone.
5. Remember, they gave birth to you
Oh, your parents. You know how they worry. All they want is the assurance you have a good-paying job with a future. In other words, a career. (That’s why to stay competitive, you need to blog.)
So take five minutes, sit down on the couch and give your parents “the talk.”
No, not that talk. The one about what you do for a living. #awkward
Good luck helping your mom with that hashtag.
The article is republished with permission from Danny Rubin, News to Live By.
How do you explain your job to your parents?
Danny Rubin is the managing editor of News To Live By, a blog for Millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons “hidden” in the day’s top stories. Don’t just read the news — use it to gain an edge on the job. You can follow the blog at @NewsToLiveBy. – See more at: Damn Right I’m Part of the “Me Me Me” Generation.
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Explaining What You Do to Your Parents
The internet has changed our world and the way we connect with one another. Being patient is essential and I must admit that for me, memorizing all of my mother’s passwords is getting to be a bit much. I wish she would just use them more frequently and enjoy social media. Ha!
Thanks for a great post, Danny!!
Put her passwords in a spreadsheet. Save yourself the memorization!
Thanks for the comment, Terri.
I think this happens generation after generation! I’ve given up explaining and share that things are good and I’m happy – that seems to work well and at least hold them off for a while. 🙂
Recently, my father sent me a fried request on FB and I immediately picked up the phone and asked “You’re on Facebook?!” I appreciate that while technology still highlights generational divides, it is also bringing us together and makes the “here’s what I do” conversation just a little bit easer.
Good for you for being patient with your parents! But yes…say things are “good” and you’re “happy” — that should do the trick 🙂
That reminds me of a movie called ‘Everybody’s fine’ with Robert DeNiro. Sometimes parents just want to hear their children are doing just fine.
That’s right. Parents just want peace of mind and assurance.
LOVE THIS! I’m in my 40s and still trying to explain it to my mom. I found it best to share what lights me up about my work and give specific stories and examples. I agree, it’s worth the effort. Great post.
Thanks for the comment! There’s such a divide between parents and working adult children today. Technology moves so quickly and even young people can barely keep up — although they’d never let you know it 🙂
While I’m not a millennial, I love this post! I recently co-hosted the quarterly #USedchat, an educational twitter chat. We had three guests that we interviewed via a Google Hangout while one of our team members tweeted the questions and responses. I was fired up about it, and tried to explain it to my 76-year old mother. Haha! THAT was a lot of fun!
EXACTLY. Google Hangout is a mystery for older folks. Better to just say “We spoke with people through the computer” and hope you can leave it at that 🙂