Q: My neighbor's daughter recently graduated from college. Because I'm in communications, which was her major, she asked to have lunch. I provided contacts for her to send résumés and gave her advice. Now she e-mails me a couple of times a week and barrages me with questions and requests for more contacts. How much more am I obligated to do?
A: In most cases, meeting once to discuss her career and sharing contacts is enough. Young people today are advised to be persistent. Since they don't often have a sense of boundaries, I suggest imposing a polite limit, framed as an opportunity: "I can give you my undivided attention for 30 more minutes."
— Anita L. Allen, professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School
I agree. Explain that you were happy to get her started on her job search, then recommend that she ask each new contact to provide a few more contacts so she can expand her network. Also suggest that she speak to recruiters and headhunters.
— Lisa Caputo, chairman and CEO, Citi's Women & Co.
Maybe my fellow panelists had an easier time finding that first job than I did, but I think the daughter's plight calls for extra empathy. I'd argue that as long as she isn't being disagreeable or ungrateful, you should do everything you can to help her for as long as it takes. Looking for work is stressful, and knowing that you have supportive contacts to turn to for encouragement is vital. I'll always remember the generous people who did that for me, so I feel I must honor them and be there for the job-hunters to offer advice and fresh leads.
— Jack Marshall, president, ProEthics
From the September 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!