By: Marissa Bell

It’s getting to be that time of year again where at the end of every phone conversation with the parents, they inevitably ask you, “So… have you thought about your plans for the summer yet?” Back in the, what I have affectionately coined, “The Golden Years” (aka the years around the age of 7-12), the answers were simple. Catching fireflies, going swimming, hanging out with friends, and fun things like that. As you got older the pressure was there to find a job and to start thinking about the future. Now that you’re in college, the focus has turned entirely onto finding an internship to prepare for the daunting professional future. And if you’re really lucky, one of your parents will say, “You know, my old college roommate is the CEO of *insert dream company here*. I’m sure she could help you get an internship there if you’re interested?” Well… obviously. Who wouldn’t be interested? But using a parental connection can create a somewhat awkward situation that can be harder to navigate than just sending resumes and cover letters off to a faceless recruiter. Here are 3 of the biggest tips to remember when applying for an internship using a connection from your parents:

Tip 1: Strike the Proper Tone

If it was your mom or dad’s college roommate, you’ve no doubt got some funny anecdotes about them. However, this is NOT the place to bring up the time you heard they mooned the President of their university or when they pranked their roommates. Yes, these are funny stories, but just by mentioning them before this person knows anything else about you, you’ve taken away from your own professionalism. This is still a first impression, not a time to bring up funny stories from the past. Of course, it’s still appropriate to let them know that you do have a connection with them, it gives them a reason to read your cover letter and resume, but keep it professional.

Tip 2: Don’t Let Your Parents Take Over

While this is a connection from your parents, don’t let them take over the entire process. It’s easy to just ask them to send an email directly to their friend and ask if there are any positions open, but the employers will be left wondering why you didn’t just do it yourself. Your parents are there to help establish a connection, but once that’s happened it’s up to you to stand alone on your own merit to get the job yourself. The worst thing you can do is make your parents do everything and then have everyone else think you only got the job because of them. Parents want to help you but there comes a time when you just need to tell them to take a step back and handle it yourself.

Tip 3: Don’t Slack Off

Just because the CEO of your dream company happens to be your parent’s old best friend doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a position based on that alone. It’s tempting to just send an email saying, “You knew my dad is college, here’s my resume” and expect that the connection between them and your family to do the rest of the work. But that will end up kicking you in the butt. Never slack off and expect someone other than yourself to get you a job. It’s up to you to treat this person just like any other employer. It will help you to be professional and make sure that you show the employer that you’re more than their friend’s son or daughter, but a potential candidate for a position that could bring a lot of positive things to the table.

The biggest thing is to use these connections. Your parents have gone through their entire lives meeting people who could potentially be your future bosses. It’s an amazing opportunity to be connected to someone you might not have necessarily been able to get in touch with otherwise. But just remember that you are more than just your parents child. Make sure the employer knows that too.