I love and totally support “Take Your Child to Work Day”. When my son was growing up, he would constantly ask me what I do when I go to work. Explaining it was easy, but I don’t think he could imagine the way I would look or how I would talk, act or interact with the people I worked with. Whoever first convinced their employer to let them bring in their child should take a bow, because it has become widespread and accepted by a large number of forward thinking employers. My son now takes himself to work, and probably doesn’t ever think about what I do on a daily basis.
Feeling a little left out of this new yearly event, I watched other people’s children come to work with their mother and father. Living vicariously through them I experienced how much joy and pride their parents were feeling. Not actual jealously, but always just a touch of what if.
This year my niece mentioned that she would not be taking her daughter, Grace, to work with her and I jumped all over that. “Maybe Grace would like to come with me”, I offered. Believe it or not Grace was so thrilled she had to immediately pick out her outfit a week in advance. Bright and early she showed up on my doorstep for the trip to work with a backpack full of things to do, assuming she would be bored.
Grace was thrilled to see that other children had come to work and there were activities for them. They were designing greeting cards, working on a newsletter and touring the office. She discovered in one day what I have always known: that I work for a fabulous company. The company provided a pizza lunch for the children, but more importantly they allowed us the time to show the children the intricate workings of a company. The president even spent time interviewing the children. Grace never opened her backpack and informed me she would be coming again next year. High praise!
Three things I re-learned from taking Grace to work.:
1. It is never too late to experience something new.
2. You don’t have to be a parent to experience parental feelings.
3. Children will always surprise and delight you.
My recommendation to you would be take the time next year to experience the total delight of having a child with you at work. If don’t have your own child – borrow one. Parents are surprisingly ready to lend their children out free of charge.
Take Your Child to Work Day was originally founded by Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation as the Take Our Daughters to Work program in 1993. Originally, the intent of the program was to address the self-esteem issues that face young women and the foundation resisted the inclusion of young men. The Ms. Foundation provided materials to schools so teachers could incorporate “choosing a career” activities the day before or after the event to reinforce the experience with the participating girls.
Schools began to resist the program because of the exclusion of boys and the program was changed to Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in 2003. Although most individuals who bring a child to their job for the day bring their own child or a relative, the program originally encouraged participants to bring a child from a residential program or shelter who may not have access to adults with careers in skilled professions.
Although, I don’t have children myself I know that children can become passionate about a future career early in life, and giving them working knowledge of the ins and outs of a particular position or industry can help them discover what they do and do not want in a future career. This can be the first step on the path to their future. Not every child is afforded the opportunity to visit a company. Some parents are self employed, others have returned to school to continue their education, and others work in highly confidential or dangerous fields that don’t allow for children to come to work for the day. I brought Hannah, the child of a family friend with me for the day. In this case, Hannah’s family owns a restaurant that she helps out at several times a week. Although this is certainly a career option for her in the future, she is already well aware of what is involved in the restaurant business and wouldn’t be gaining a new experience by spending the day there.
She couldn’t have been more excited to spend the day at the Prudent Publishing offices. She loved seeing the process of designing a greeting card from start to finish and getting the opportunity to design and photograph her own card creation. She was thrilled to meet the other staff members and enjoyed seeing how many career opportunities there were within one company. She listened in on several live phone calls and assisted with small tasks throughout the day. I enjoyed seeing how much she has matured and that she felt comfortable asking questions about the tasks she was seeing and participating in. Hannah even took our typing test and was able to type 59 wpm with 99% accuracy – not a small feat for such a young woman! Hannah was very fascinated with our electronic typewriter. Since she has grown up in the computer age, she thought it was amazing to hear how much we used typewriters as little as 15 years ago and the increased efficiencies we’ve seen with the introduction of computers.
Overall it was a great experience for all the kids who were able to spend the day with us and a very rewarding experience for the adults. It was very refreshing to see our careers through their eyes as we too often take for granted what we see and do everyday.
For several years now children have been going to work with their moms, dads, aunts, uncles, etc. on Take Your Child to Work Day to see what goes on in that person’s normal workday. This was the first year that my eight-year-old daughter, Jessica, was old enough by my company’s guidelines to join me for the day. I asked her (in passing really) if she was interested in coming to work with me and after I got up off the floor from being tackled, I concluded that the answer was a resounding, yes!
She went through what I call the girl drama process of picking out just the right outfit with just the right accessories and shoes. She asked me many, many questions about how the day would unfold and couldn’t wait for the day to come. She was so enthusiastic that I hoped she wasn’t setting such high expectations in case she would end up being disappointed. Finally the big day arrived (April 22nd) which happened to also coincide with Earth Day this year. I have to admit I was even a bit anxious myself to see how things would progress that day. I warned my husband that we were likely to be home early if she ended up getting bored.
Well, there was no need to worry. Several of my co-workers came up with such creative ways to get the children involved in learning about our company, which primarily sells business greeting cards. Jessica had a full day that started with typesetting and designing her name tag, then meeting with our company president to discuss her future career plans, after which she entered her own order on our website (which she found very easy to use) and designed and photographed her own birthday card design for the mini-catalog that our graphics team produced for the children. After a fun pizza lunch, we headed over to eat some dirt, er, I mean dessert; a fellow employee made an edible flower pot with crushed up Oreo cookies made to look like dirt, complete with gummy worms. Yum!
The afternoon consisted of listening to one of our customer service specialists take a phone order for thank you cards, testing her typing speed to see if she typed fast enough to take orders, and various projects that were assigned for her to complete. She was sad that the day was coming to an end but happy to receive her paycheck and company newsletter before heading home. She couldn’t wait to get home and tell her family and friends all about her experience. Does she want to return next year? Well, let’s just say the outfit is already being planned!