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Friday is ‘Bring Your Parents to Work’ Day - So They Can Finally See What You Do

Do your parents know what you do for a living? Could they describe it in 10 words or fewer?

This Friday, November 4, is "Bring Your Parents To Work Day," designed by professional networking company LinkedIn to enlighten parents as to what the heck their daughter or son does for a living.

Catherine Fisher, LinkedIn career expert, helped come up with the idea for the occasion a few years back when she and colleagues were laughing over the fact that their parents didn't quite understand their jobs, or more pointedly, what exactly they did to make money at a large tech company.

Taha, Jawad, Integrify CEO Rahman and Amin work at startup Integrify's office in Helsinki
REUTERS/Tuomas Forsell

"The more we talked about it, the more we felt it was something we could do something about, as it clearly seemed to be a shared experience amongst us all," said Fisher, adding that while brainstorming, LinkedIn commissioned a study and found that one in 3 parents don’t understand what their (now grown) child does for a living.

"So we decided to open our doors and let the parents in," said Fisher.

The idea was that it would be "fun and cool," Fisher said, but added that the event has turned out to be far more emotionally impactful than anything else.

One in three parents doesn’t understand what their (now grown) child does for a living.

"Seeing the pride in these parents' faces, being able to look into their eyes and thank them for the people they've raised, you can't explain it — it's just an amazing day."

This year, several other companies are participating with Linkedin, welcoming employees to invite mom and dad into the office. Note that it's not all tech companies, but actually some more "old-fashioned" establishments as well.

Those companies include:

  • HubSpot
  • ASOS
  • British Airways
  • Dogfish Head Brewery
  • Ozinga, Inc.
  • Plum Organics
  • SAP
  • Virgin
  • World's Finest Chocolate Inc.
  • 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

Since every company is different, they decide what kind of programs to offer their employees' parent, but at LinkedIn, some example itineraries include painting class with parents and supervisors, department speaking engagements highlighting teams and their work within the company, a social lunch engagement coordinating introductions with coworkers and employee/parent pairs, and a Q&A session.

LinkedIn was unable to share numbers as to how many employees will be participating, but Fisher says it has grown wildly over the years and is often cited as employees' favorite day. Age is not factored in, and Fisher says that employees of all ages bring their parents in on the special day.

One set of parents made the seven-hour drive from Pittsburgh to New York just to see what their kids did at Amazon.

Shira Selkovits, 38, a senior relationship manager at LinkedIn has participated in every BYPTWD and says it's enabled her to have a better relationship with her parents.

"I thought I'd have to coerce them to come, but from the start they were really excited," said Selkovits. "They make the seven-hour drive from Pittsburgh to New York. My brother and sister work at Amazon, and they just attended their Bring Your Parents to Work Day [last September].

Selkovits said she's always been close with her family, but that now that they see what she does on a daily basis, they can better relate to her — and she to them.

"My mom really wants to picture my desk, and what my office looks like, and who I work with, and for my dad who has been a sales mentor to me all my life, he now talks to me in a way that shows he has learned about and admires my strategy. There's a broader sense of understanding in general and it's made them feel like they bring value where they couldn't [when they didn't understand my job]. It's 100 percent improved our conversations."

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What can they possibly learn this year about their daughter's job that they didn't learn over the past three? Selkovits says that above all, this year they're looking at the social incentives.

"I think they want to make some friends with my co-workers' parents," said Selkovits.

Oh dear, parents getting involved with your co-workers' parents? That could get awkward, but actually in this context it sounds pretty adorable.