For over two decades now, on the first Wednesday of every November, organizations across the country see an influx of employees.
Thanks to The Learning Partnership’s Take Your Kids to Work DayTM, on this day, more than 250,000 Grade 9 students enter Canada’s workforce. As we become increasingly familiar with the benefits of hands-on learning, it seems to only make sense that such an opportunity is given to students to familiarize themselves with the realities of today’s workplaces, which they are soon likely to join. The benefits to the participants are tangible, and are discussed by the leader of a 2009 Purdue University engineering study – “In every area we tested, the students who were involved in a hands-on project learned more and demonstrated a deeper understanding of the issues than the traditional group.” Providing students with the opportunity to participate in a hands-on experience, in real working environments, will help them achieve a greater understanding of the working world that awaits them.
For most, career planning can be considered one of the most daunting tasks of their lives. Take Your Kids to Work DayTM is an excellent resource to begin the process in a practical, engaging, and fun way. And while we’ve always known it to be a day for the students, organizations can use the experience as a learning opportunity as well. Whether you are coming to work with a child in tow, or welcoming students you don’t know, it’s important to make this day as meaningful as possible for all involved. Here are some things to think about as the day approaches:
- As someone bringing a child to work, use your personal relationship to do some pre- and post-digging. Find out what the child is interested in doing and learning, so you can be sure they have opportunities to engage in something related to their interests throughout the day. At the end of the day, find out what they liked and didn’t like about the experience. This will help both of you to guide the student’s next career planning efforts, carrying the experience beyond the day itself. Debriefing the day with the child will also help you, and your organization, become more aware of how to make the experience even more meaningful in the future. Additionally, you can ask people in your network about their experience with Take Your Kids to Work DayTM. See what they found to be well received, and learn what didn’t work out so well, to help direct your planning for the day.
- Whether the student is aware of their specific interests or not, provide them with the opportunity to engage in various functions and roles throughout the organization. The variety can both broaden any potential tunnel vision, and narrow down career choices.
- Don’t just concentrate on showing them your day-to-day tasks, discuss cross-functional skills, such as professionalism, effective communication, etc., that are crucial in any career.
- Make sure they are not simply your shadow for the day. Involve them on a deeper level, ask them to help problem-solve, engage them in brainstorming, and give them the opportunity to really participate in the workplace. This day is intended for students to immerse themselves in career realities, and simply having them watch your every move will not do the experience justice.
- Make the students feel comfortable. The first day on a job can be tense, and this is no different. Everything is unfamiliar and the lay of the land in unknown. Allow the students to really experience and feel the culture of the organization, so as to ease their nerves about not knowing what is, and is not, accepted within the workplace. This also provides an opportunity for organizations to exercise their on-boarding efforts with new employees.
- For your organization, this day will bring a whole new generation of employees into your workplace. Let this serve as a good time to evaluate the way multi-generational employees work together within your organization. Observe the differences between the generations, and look for the strengths each generation can bring to the table. Give thought to how their generational learning and working styles can work better together, so the organization, as a whole, can operate at even higher levels.
- Bonus tip for parents: If your child has expressed interest in a career that is different than your own, see if there is someone in your network who’s organization is more aligned with your child’s interests, and ask if your child can join them on this day.
I urge you think about how Take Your Kids To Work DayTM can truly add value to the lives of the students involved and how you, as an organization, can dually benefit from the experience. As always, we welcome your comments and invite you to share your Take Your Kids To Work DayTM tips below.