| Michael Leidtke |
MOUNTAIN VIEW, California (AP) – Seta Whitford-Stark was dumbfounded last year when she found out her daughter Amy quit her job at an employee-recruiting agency to work for LinkedIn, an Internet company that Seta had never heard of.
Amy tried to explain what the online professional networking service did but Seta couldn’t quite grasp the concept or why the 29-year-old would want to work there.
“Oh my, what has she gotten herself into?” Seta, now 73, recalls muttering to herself.
Then Seta got to observe Amy and her colleagues in action at LinkedIn Corp’s New York office and came away with a much better understanding of her daughter’s career.
She was back at LinkedIn again recently for its second annual “Bring In Your Parents Day”, joining thousands of parents at companies around the globe in an event that gives adult children a rare opportunity to showcase the cultural and technological changes that have transformed the modern workplace.
Conceived by LinkedIn last year, more than 50 companies and other organisations in 16 countries are now embracing this generational spin on the take-the-kids-to-work craze that began a couple decades ago. Companies realise that some parents who once tried to enlighten their kids by letting them tag along at work may be confused about what their now-adult children do.
“The first reaction when you hear about this is, ‘Really, bring your parents to work? Is that really something you should be doing?” says LinkedIn Corp CEO Jeff Weiner. But it makes sense, he says, “once you have done it and see how meaningful it is. It helps us all speak a common language in terms of how the world is working today”.
Margie Sisk, a human resources specialist at an amusement park, remembers bringing her daughter Riley on a “Take Your Daughter To Work” day. She never thought the tables would someday be turned. Riley, now a LinkedIn recruiting director, celebrated her 24th birthday recently hosting her mum and dad, Jon Sisk, at LinkedIn’s Mountain View, California headquarters.
“It’s a sign of the times, how much things have changed,” says Margie, 50. “We could have never taken our own parents to work. Everything here is so incredible that now I am sitting here wondering how I could get a job here.”
Leo Burnett North America CEO Rich Stoddart expects many of the roughly 200 fathers and mothers attending the Chicago advertising agency’s event to be startled by what they see and hear. He is confident the visit will cast ad agencies in a new light, especially among parents whose perceptions have been shaped by the “Mad Men” television series set in the 1960s or the 1956 film, “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit”.
“They are going to collide with a creative workforce that has a lot of twenty-somethings walking around in T-shirts and jeans,” says Stoddart, whose 77-year-old mother flew in from Cleveland to attend the event. The agenda includes lessons on how to use Twitter, glimpses at past and future ad campaigns and live music performed by “Bassel and the Supernaturals”, one of the bands that the agency has been bringing for the past nine years to help make work more fun.
Bill Fernandez, who spent 40 years working in the auto industry, thought he might have come to the wrong place when he and his wife Hazel arrived at LinkedIn’s headquarters to be chaperoned by their daughter, Robyn, a product consultant for the company.
“We saw one guy walking around in Bermuda shorts and thongs,” Fernandez, 72, marveled. “He looked more like he was ready for a day in the park than to go to work.”