Skip to content
With Guy, Nikki and James,

Roaring Beach, Dover,

Tasmania, September 2014
Last week was a momentous
one in my life: My eldest son, Guy, was offered his first job. Then
twenty four hours later he was offered another job.


Given what I have dedicated
my working life to, it has been a fascinating experience to observe the
process of my own child attempting to enter the workforce for the first


Guy turned fifteen in
August and immediately announced that he wanted to get a job. I
encouraged him to do so as I had started a casual retail job at the same
age and apart from earning my own money, I learned many valuable things
about working with, and relating to adults in a formal environment.


As both his mother and
stepmother had successful and enjoyable times working at McDonald’s, and
there being a local McDonald’s within walking distance of his mother’s
house, Guy decided to apply to work at McDonald’s. He successfully
completed an online application and was invited to the local store to be
interviewed by the store manager.


I deliberately stayed in
the background while all this was going on, based on my
(mostly-but-not-always-followed) parenting principle of ‘if my
son/daughter wants my advice then he/she will ask for it’. I resisted
giving Guy any interview advice with the belief that he’s a smart kid
who is capable of looking after himself.


He returned from the


‘How did it go?’,
I asked.


‘Pretty well, I think.’


‘Why do you say that?’


‘Well, at the end of the
interview I asked him

how I had done, and he said I was the best person he had interviewed


There you go, I thought to
myself. You don’t need to give your son advice, he is confident enough
to ask the right question at the right time.


Guy was advised by the
McDonald’s store manager that he should check online for notification
about his application’s progress. Some weeks went by without word.
Again, I resisted the temptation to tell him what he should do. If he
wants the job desperately enough, he will follow up, I thought.


While he was waiting to
hear back from McDonald’s, Guy applied for another job, at his local
Subway. After his online application was accepted, he was scheduled for
an interview at the store.


The day before the Subway
interview, Guy decided to follow up directly with his McDonald’s
interviewer and found out that he was meant to have been advised some
weeks before that he was successful.


About an hour before the
Subway interview, Guy was offered the McDonald’s job, subject to
successfully completing some online training. Guy went to the Subway
interview anyway, and was also offered the Subway job.


Guy now wants to try and do
both jobs. He reasons that he is not guaranteed any amount of shifts at
either McDonald’s or Subway.


This is not what I would
advise, but he hasn’t asked me for my advice and given my successful
track record of keeping my mouth shut with respect to my son’s
work-related decisions, why should I tempt fate now?


I was discussing this
series of events with a long-term friend who is the respected CEO of a
highly successful recruitment agency and father of two teenage children.
We were discussing the issue of parental intervention in the lives of
our respective children – where is the line between encouragement,
suggesting, telling or simply trusting your child to work it out for


It’s not clear, nor will it
ever be clear, I don’t think.


In the conversation, I said
I couldn’t recall my parents ever telling me what I should do with
respect to my choices about education, friends, sport or career.


The only exception to that
was one night my father waited up for me to get home from a late night.
I was playing cricket the next day. I was a top order batsman who had
some talent. My father gave me a big serve, the gist of it being that if
I was committed to doing something then I should give it my best shot
and not compromise my chances of doing well by ‘burning the candle at
both ends’. I proved my father right by being dismissed in a forgettable
way for a low score the next day.


Needless to say, I ignored
my father’s very wise advice and my cricket ‘career’ finished up being a
tale of unfulfilled promise.


This was the exception;
overall my parents trusted that they had brought their son up with a set
of values that enabled him to work stuff out for himself in his own


I started an economics
degree without any real idea of where it might take me. I completed that
degree four years later at the age of twenty-two, no further enlightened
as to what career I might choose. I don’t recall this lack of planning
and rather haphazard approach  of mine   leading   to any serious
conversations, initiated by my parents, about ‘my future’.


As Guy commences his work
life I hope I am wise enough to continue to learn from the example set
by my parents. Trust   that   each of my   three   children will be guided
by the  values that enable them to work things out for themselves and
learn something from each of the choices that they make.

1 Comment

  1. Chris G on 12/11/2014 at 10:07 pm

    I hate to say (but I will anyway), "in my day"… my first job (apprenticeship) started with an interview between my Father and "Mr" Thompson (the employer). They decided if I was an appropriate candidate and if the job was right for me… He was always "Mr" Thompson, and if there was ever an issue, guess who would call. Thankfully I didn't give him cause.
    We love young candidates who have had that early disciplined training from the likes of fast food chains. Unfortunately many seem shy to put it on their resumes.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll To Top