My daughter was 10 years old when she first attended Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day at my office At the time, I was working in a role sourcing large contracts, leveraging all of the different Allied Signal and Honeywell sites — as Allied Signal had recently acquired Honeywell.
Four workers’ daughters came into the office that first year, and we put together a couple-hour program where we talked a little bit about what we do at work, how we do it, and how travel fits into that. The daughters were aware that their parents left town on business sometimes, and we thought it would be meaningful to help them understand why, and what that entailed. We also took them around the office and introduced them to various people.
The next three years my daughter and I participated, my company got more organized with planning out the day. We dug a little deeper into the specific types of work each of the parents did and what’s important to them. We also implemented a more focused tour of our facilities, and we had a breakout activity that one of our HR team members put together so the girls had some creative reflection time where they could write, draw, or make something about what struck them most while participating in the day.
This was a nice touch, as it took some pressure off the parents to fill all the time. After all, we’re great at doing our jobs, but we might not always feel great at telling young children how we do our jobs. Plus, there are different levels of comfort with how children feel and respond as they learn. Some of them are very outgoing and you don’t even need to prompt them to ask questions. Others might be feeling intimidated or overwhelmed. Giving them creative reflection time meets kids anywhere on this spectrum where they’re at.
I remember my daughter — who gets her mouth from me, and I’m not a shy wallflower — started saying, “You guys write these contracts, and you’re leveraging pricing, and you talk about hundreds of thousands of dollars… where do you guys keep all this money? Can I see it? Do you get paid in cash, or do you write checks?”
She really wanted to get into the nitty gritty details about what the money transaction part of things was all about. My boss at the time said, “We’ve got to hire her. She’s got really good questions.”
It was really great for me to be able to share my work with her in a physical, tangible way — walking into the office and seeing it operating, not just tagging along on a weekend when I’d go by to pick up some papers or folders or something. She got to meet people I worked with and talk a little bit about what makes a company successful, and what type of career I was in, and how I landed there, and how I chose it, etc. We really had great times participating in this event.
I do wish we had a little better preparation for the first one, but the first time you do something is always about learning things, right? You’re always going to say, “I wish we would have thought of this,” or “I wish we would’ve done that.”
My candid feedback for other companies thinking about being involved is: don’t skimp on preparation. Be really purposeful in thinking about what you want to do to make sure the day is very special — not just special in a loving way for parents and their children, but also from an educational perspective. You’ll leave lasting impressions on the kids that visit with you, impressions they’ll take away as they grow up and, hopefully, move into successful careers of their own.
Editor’s note: Jon Lyons is a member of the Sun Lakes Rotary Club in Chandler. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is an international event celebrated on the fourth Thursday in April every year by millions of students, parents, educators and employers. It is a day when students dream big and learn how to make those dreams come true. For the event’s 28th anniversary in 2021, they are planning programming that will be accessible from anywhere. Registration is free at DaughtersAndSonsToWork.org.