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Does Gen Y Depend Too Much on Parents for Career Advice?

Full length of young men and women holding cellphone

Young people may be graduating into an epically crappy job market, but in one way they’re lucky.

Like never before, our generation has a vast array of career information and resources at our disposal.

Thanks to the internet and other tech tools, we’re no longer limited to college career centers, family friends and dog-eared guides from the library.

But that doesn’t mean we’re putting all that online knowledge and advice to use.

A new survey from Millennial Branding, a Gen Y consulting firm, and StudentAdvisor.com polled 200 young people across the country about how they’re preparing for their careers and seeking out mentoring.

And forget high-tech; it appears digital natives are mainly turning to the oldest source of advice out there – our parents.

More than a third of those with mentors said their parent is their mentor, while only 10 percent found a professional mentor through social networking.

But just because it’s a great thing that you have a good relationship with your parents doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to rely so heavily on them for career mentoring. “If you rely on only your parents for career mentoring, then you aren’t getting all the perspectives and information needed in order to make a good decision,” says Schawbel.

He suggests young people “use the internet to find mentors. Go on Amazon.com to find business authors in their field or search for them on LinkedIn and reach out.”

Other experts also question the relevance of parents’ well-meant-but-usually-slightly-out-of-date advice. Remember, when your parents were starting their working lives, the loyalty from job security model still held and globalization was barely getting started.

That means parents often talk about fixed paths and risk-reduction strategies that are better suited to earlier times, when careers were more stable and demanded a less entrepreneurial approach, according to James Marshall Reilly, author of Shake the World: It’s Not About Finding a Job, It’s About Creating a Life.

Bad career advice from trusted adults, he told me earlier this year, “is a result of the increasing generation gap, and that in turn is a result of the rapid acceleration of technology.

The generation gap is so large that we’re getting advice from our parents and our guidance counselors and our professors, and the advice isn’t ill-intentioned, but it’s not always right.”

“It might have been right five years ago. It might have been right ten years ago, but it’s not necessarily right now. When you look at who’s giving this advice, [they] aren’t as familiar with the resources and tools that we have now to learn and self-propel,” he says.