While all my friends were working this summer at local arcades and ice cream parlors, I was sitting at a corner desk wearing mom slacks and a blazer inside a stuffy yet highly acclaimed multi-million dollar bank. When my parents first approached me about working this summer at the bank my dad works at, it was clear that even if I didn’t want to do it, I had no choice (even though they said I did). The problem wasn’t even that I was lazy; I had applied somewhere else and was awaiting a response regarding my application. I didn’t want to work at the bank because I was scared of the highly professional environment. I was frightened of being a 17 year old entering a grown-up workforce with no background or knowledge on what I would be doing. I was terrified of screwing up so horribly that I would let everyone down, especially my father. Although I had a rocky start, I am beyond grateful to have had this opportunity for millions…well…5…reasons. Here’s why every “YOLO” teen, college “animal”, or 20-something “facing an existential crisis on what to do with their life” (and liberal arts degree) should intern at their parents’ workplace:
1. Data For the Argument—Both Sides
I know for a fact my dad never had the dream that I would work at the bank for the rest of my life. Working there for the next 40 years could be a very real possibility if I wanted it to be because it is a family run company where family members of employees are given great opportunities if qualified. However, the environment is not the type I see myself working in in the future and the work there is not the type of work I see myself doing in the future. This is a good thing to recognize. Parents want their kids to have experience. If their dream is for you to follow the family business or line of work even if you don’t want that for yourself, the best way to make it clear to them that it’s not the right career/fit for you is by agreeing to intern. By interning, you are gathering data and proof on the daily as to why your desire to do something different with your life is legitimate. At the end of the internship, you will be able to sit down and talk to your parents about your observations and why you feel even more strongly about not continuing with that line of work for the rest of your life. If your parents are even somewhat reasonable, they should listen to your concerns and understand how unhappy you were in the environment you were interning in. There is also an argument provided for working in the family trade even if your parents don’t want that for you. If they see how you can succeed and excel at your internship you can prove to them that that’s the path in life you want to take.
2. A Fallback Opportunity for Full-Time Employment
As mentioned before, the bank encourages family members working there to enhance the family-friendly environment and the workplace dynamic. The great thing about my internship is that I proved myself capable and could always go back to the bank if I find myself out of work when I’m fresh out of college. This really goes for interning anywhere, but especially interning at your parents’ workplace because you get to put your name out there and you are associated with your parent who, hopefully, does a good job as well.
3. Job Familiarity
Chances are, your coworkers have received your Christmas card, or at least have heard about your undefeated tennis season (more than once). This sense of familiarity gets rid of the awkwardness that might come with any other job. If everyone knows your parent, striking up conversation people won’t be as difficult. People who know your parent hopefully like them so you have some degree of automatic respect, especially if your parents’ position is higher on the work pyramid. If someone doesn’t like your parent, they simply will avoid you if possible. Plus, your desk will definitely be facing a grey/beige wall in some corner. So it’s not like you can see anyone glaring at you anyways! It’s important to remember that people aren’t going to be a huge jerk to you because you are there to help them and clear up their busy work. They need you. You, unlike everyone else there, aren’t trying to climb the corporate ladder or step on others to get to the top. You’re just trying to do a good job. You have no incentive to rise to the top because you literally do the work that is handed to you and aren’t given much freedom to work on projects or accomplish own your own.
4. Understanding and Appreciating
The most important thing I’ve taken away from this experience is being able to truly appreciate and understand everything my dad does at work. He does not have an easy job. I never thought he did, but it was not until I was in the same work environment as him did I truly begin to comprehend the magnitude of stress he was under. I used to see him come home and wonder what could possibly be making one strong and professional man so stressed out to the point of breaking. I’ve always been grateful for everything he’s done for me and given to me and I was even more appreciative after seeing what he goes through in order to provide out family with the lifestyle we have.
5. Bonding Time
Inevitably, working in the same place as your parent will give you two something to bond over. You will share your mutual observations and opinions on people, which will be a breath of fresh air for your parent because finally someone will truly understand what they deal with.