Tag: Millennials

Wednesday Links

Millennials Bringing Their Parents to Job Interviews Is Now a Thing. Please Stop Doing This.



(Via PolicyMic)

I love my parents. I am a millennial. Under no normal circumstances would I ever bring my parents to a job interview, a company social, or a “Bring Your Parents to Work Day.”

That last sentence should be a non sequitur, but as Anita Hofschneider’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal (titled “Should You Bring Mom and Dad to the Office?”) outlined, it’s a thing that happens in real life.

The answer to this question is no. No, you should not bring your mom and dad to the office. Or the job interview.

Evidently, helicopter parents — the ones that you’ll find hovering over their kids — are extending their reach all the way to the cubicle, where millennials are attempting to be taken seriously by their bosses and co-workers.

Some parents attend job interviews. Like a parent-teacher conference.

It’s happening at the individual and organizational level. Hofschneider profiles one millennial who has brought his mother to multiple company events, “including the company’s annual meeting for employees and their families.” (I think the event was called “Motherboy XXX.”)

Google held a “Take Your Parents to Work Day,” which brought 2,000 parents to its Mountain View campus (though I would guess some of that is a Google Effect and wouldn’t happen at, say, Walmart). LinkedIn, also in Silicon Valley, is planning to hold a similar event in November.

What’s going on?

Hofschneider gets part of the explanation from Michael Van Grinsven, the field-growth and development director at Northwestern Mutual. He says that regularly inviting parents to the office for open houses has “become best practice.” (No word on who made that decision for corporate America.)

It gets worse. The article looks at one study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which found, inexplicably, that

“6% of recent college graduates surveyed in the U.S. wanted their parents to receive a copy of their offer letters…The study also found that just 2% of young employees in the U.S. want their parents to receive a copy of their performance review.”

Two percent of young employees want an Adult Report Card sent home to mommy and daddy (likely because if they bring it to Chuck-E-Cheese they can get four tokens for every “Meets Expectations” on the review).

But the most painful and incomprehensible statistic comes near the end of the article:

“A 2012 survey of more than 500 college graduates by Adecco, a human-resources organization, found that 8% of them had a parent accompany them to a job interview, and 3% had the parent sit in on the interview.”

One in 12 millennials had a parent accompany them to a job interview. Of those, almost half had the parent physically sit with them while the interview was being conducted. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.37%, so let’s hope this is all one statistical anomaly and that those 15 Americans are the only ones in America that would allow this.

Listen, millennials: Don’t. Ever. Do. This.

I guess being 25 puts me at the older end of the millennial spectrum, so maybe my curmudgeon years are simply beginning a few decades early. But helicopter parents hovering over the cubicle seems terrible to me.

Fresh out of high school, community college, or university, you look young and inexperienced. You are young and inexperienced. You will need to prove yourself as a competent, capable co-worker and employee who is able to independently succeed. Will heavily involving your mother and/or father in your internship or entry-level job really assist you in proving your competence, or will it make you look young and incompetent? Does bringing your mother around the office (or, God forbid, the interview) make you look independent-minded or reliant on others?

Just as important: Do you think your parents would rather micro-manage your internship, or enjoy watching their son or daughter independently learn, grow, and succeed? Some will want to continue to be helicopter parents, sure, but I’m guessing (hoping, really) most will likely want to see all of their hard work, dedication, and love pay off. And that involves letting go, at least a little.

Want to tell your dad about your day at work? Great! He’ll love to hear from you. Hoping to text your mom about a problem you’re having with your boss? She’ll probably love helping you through your issues.

Thinking about inviting your parents to your office to meet your boss? Think again. Please. If not for your reputation, then for the rest of us.

Don’t Join Wall Street to Save The World – It’s Not Worth The Cost



(Via PolicyMic)

Dylan Matthews’ Washington Post piece on high-earning millennials’ charitable giving patterns is fascinating and incredibly well written – you should read it right now. It highlights a palpable tension that infects the thoughts and conversations of many millennials: how do we do the most good?

I’ve had the familiar debate over and over again, with myself, friends, and family, and I don’t think there’s a clear answer. But I want to challenge the implicit assumption that simply giving as much money as possible is the best route for passionate, intelligent millennials to contribute; I think that their minds and their skills are often more valuable for organizations than their cash, and that what they’re giving up may not be worth the cost. Don’t join Wall Street to save the world.

Matthews’ article centers on Jason Trigg, a 25-year old hedge fund analyst who made a conscious decision to work in that high-paying sector with the goal of making as much money as possible – so that he can give “half of a high finance salary” to the Against Malaria Foundation. In doing so, he believes he is able to “‘ … make more of a difference'” than a Peace Corps volunteer. Similarly minded individuals are interviewed throughout, and the nascent, en vogue charity-rating organizations and NGOs GiveWellGiving What We Can, and GiveDirectly are discussed, too.

The article is partly philosophical, drawing on Peter Singers’ utilitarian “save a life if you can” thought experiment, but we can leave that aside for this post, and assume that many millennials share a passion and commitment to give back.

In the most obvious sense, what the profiled individuals are doing is commendable, and to have more of our generation contributing similarly would be a wonderful thing. Trigg and the others seem to care deeply about the causes they support and are very interested in maximizing their ability to “do good.”

But in another sense: what a waste! Time, passion, and intelligence go into a hedge fund, a (rather large) burlap sack full of money comes out, and a portion of that money goes to an important charitable organization.

Is there a way for Trigg to be more valuable to the organizations he donates to? Couldn’t AMF, and myriad other organizations, use his intelligence and passion directly? As a member of their team, it’s possible that he’d be worth substantially more to them – and the world – than $20,000. Maybe he creates an algorithm that solves a thorny issue AMF has faced, or works on a computer model that somehow reduces the cost to save a child’s life by 20%. Who knows – but that’s precisely the point.

That’s a bit simplistic, I realize. Many who work for a hedge fund, Goldman Sachs, or Google do so because they love their job, and not everyone who wants to “do good” can work for AMF or another NGO.

Even if they could, as Matthews notes, it’s an open question as to whether they’d just be better off giving money unconditionally, as in the GiveDirectly model; recent research by Chris Blattman showed that unconditional cash transfers are an effective way to boost economic growth and make the lives of the poor better. If individuals don’t have skills that could be useful for organizations like AMF, giving as much money as they can may be the best route.

But that’s a big if, and Trigg still has decided to donate to AMF, a preference that indicates he values “typical” NGO work. It still seems to me that with a few modest tweaks to the system, skilled workers like Trigg would find it a better solution to “give directly” to AMF and others by working – directly – with them.

One such (admittedly unlikely) tweak would be for hedge funds and other high-paying corporations to “sponsor” individuals to work at AMF and other NGOs – but rather than sponsor the role, as in a typical fellowship, they sponsored the donation. In effect, they’d pay the psychic cost for people like Trigg being unable to donate tens of thousands of dollars.

Another route would look similar to the Thiel Fellowship or MacArthur Genius Grant, where individuals are given money to pursue a cause that’s seen to be in the public good. Call it the Hedge Fund Sabbatical, where hedge funds could contribute to a fund that pays for their employees to take a year to work at a non-profit they’re aligned with.

A final, more conventional route would be for Trigg and others to make a public pledge (perhaps using Dean Karlan’s StickK online commitment website) to raise a set amount of money from friends and family, so that they can work in the NGO space without feeling guilty about being unable to donate; their friends and family would cover that psychic cost.

None of this is meant to disparage the choices of anyone profiled in the piece, or to question their commitment to choosing a life that puts others at center. But I think it’s worth questioning the premise that the best way for a passionate, intelligent person to give back is by extracting money out of for-profit corporations.

Don’t join Wall Street to save the world. What you’ll give up – time, intelligence, and passion – may not be worth the cost.

The Graduation Advice You Won’t Hear: It’s OK To Not Love Your Career

1_article_photoIf you are anything like me the day I threw my hat in the air, you are simply not passionate about any one thing, yet; you’re interested in a lot of things, curious about pretty much everything, and desiring to make the world a better place — however you define it — but not set afire by one.

That’s OK! You have ample time to find that career-related passion; you may focus instead of a passion outside of your career; or you may end up helping someone else realize their passion. Never forget that, in almost all cases, you know what’s best for you.

Your generation — our generation — was primed by two powerful forces early on: that we could be whatever we wanted to be: we were, and are, “special” — uniquely passionate, uniquely talented, and uniquely prepared to win; and that it’s our generation that can “change the world.” So, most of us came out of college and wondered, “How?!”

Continue Reading at PolicyMic…

Thursday Links

  • “Millennials don’t need ‘doctors.’ Millennials need organ transplants that fit easily into their always-connected lifestyles” – We’re the Uber of Organ Transplants
  • A smart, conservative list of proposals to improve the employment situation in America – furlough pay (e.g., employee works Monday-Thursday and gets 80% of their “typical” pay, 20% of unemployment benefit), relocation subsidies (“Here’s $2,000 if you move to North Dakota), reforms to immigration, and more. Temporarily lowering the minimum wage for certain groups – high-school kids, say – is an intriguing idea
  • Automated hovering comes to physicians and nurses: automatic reminders – and penalties – for not washing their hands. A good reminder that even the most knowledgeable, in-the-trenches groups often can’t get themselves to do what they know, without doubt, they should do
  • Consumers are terrible at estimating calories at fast-food restaurants – to the tune of 30-40% lower than what they’re actually eating. Other than the time/cost of understanding how many calories are in a given item, I haven’t heard an argument for why consumers don’t have the right to know – easily – what’s in what they’re eating.
  • Nice profile of Brittney Griner, an openly-gay women’s basketball player. Baylor sounds like a pretty toxic place: when Griner was in college, the article states that it didn’t even have a LGBT Center

In Defense of Millennials’ Wonky “New Idealism”

Edit: This post now also appears at PolicyMic, another great website dedicated to discussing issues facing the Millennial generation. Check it out here

New York Times columnist David Brooks is, like many of us, a wonk. But in addition to owning a love of studies and charts, data and fact, he’s someone who seems to understand the promise and the peril of idealism; someone who could pass F. Scott Fitzgerald’s test of a first-rate intellect. He’s the sort of person who may believe that an empirically-minded idealism is not only possible, but perhaps even preferable.

So it was with a little confusion that I read his recent column on what he sees as Millennials’ preferred method of change: wonky incrementalism, as opposed to the pure, uncut idealism of his youth [1]. He treats the “wonkster [2]” and the idealist as disparate, mutually exclusive individuals, star-crossed lovers that will never be one. In doing so, I think he overlooks the development of a “New Idealism” that can be found in the social entrepreneurship sector, and he devalues the deep wells of passion that keep wonks up through the night (to read Medicaid policy papers, usually).

Continue Reading at Project Millennial

Thursday Links

  • The answer to this article’s title (from the excellent Annie Lowrey) is, I think, “Yes” – mainly because, as Lowrey says, “The Millennials are the best-educated generation ever.” But we’re also an extremely unequal generation, so it may only be “Yes” for those that have the education
  • The question David Kestenbaum (of Planet Money fame) skirts in this short piece is if the drug is “worth it” – whether the price is $5,500 or $11,000, given that it extends life for, on average, only 1.4 months
  • I like the ethos of the D-Prize – have an idea to solve an intractable “easy” problem? Here’s some money! – but am hopeful that the application process is more robust than this article suggests; the author (founder of OneAcre Fund) is right that these problems are cheap and “simple” to fix, but… the fact that they aren’t fixed when they are cheap and “simple” would lead me to believe that there’s more going on
  • After hearing Radiolab’s latest short on Henry Heimlich – a much more complicated figure than you’d suspect – I found a great paper explaining “pyrotherapy,” or the treatment of certain diseases (like syphilis) by inducing high fevers (with, say, malaria). Turns out the guy who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for this – Julius Wagner-Juaregg, in 1927 – was big into Naziism. Oops.

My Writing, Around the Web

Below are links to pieces I wrote that were posted at other sites in the last week or two; all of the websites are fantastic and, whether you read my posts or not, I highly recommend checking them regularly – especially if you’re interested in American health policy, the Millennial generation, and international development.


And a picture of Jinja, Uganda, from this weekend, for no other reason than that it’s nice to look at:
Jinja Sunset