Kids often end up at work by accident. They miss the bus. The baby sitter has a fever. There’s a teacher in-service.
But every April, something else happens. Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day makes a kid in the workplace more about showing them the ropes than about a lack of day care.
My son, Joseph, is a frequent visitor in the Centre Daily Times newsroom. His name is on the office door along with editor John Boogert’s. Everyone knows that the back corner office could be where he is playing Minecraft on a random summer day. His dinosaur stickers decorate almost every computer terminal.
But on Thursday, it was a little bit different.
He didn’t just listen to me calling Lisa Powers at Penn State’s communications office. He visited every department, from accounting to advertising to circulation. He saw the press and asked questions about how papers in one room got to another. (I actually learned quite a bit about the system myself.) He acted as a stand-in in the photography studio.
Was it all a field trip? No. I did still have work to do, so there was some time devoted to Batman Legos and some to YouTube, but to be honest, people who collect a paycheck have been known to do that on occasion.
But the idea is that kids get a little bit of exposure to things they might not have known about or might not have thought about. To get them to realize exactly what Mom is doing all day, or why Dad can’t make it to every Little League game.
Not every business participates.
Penn State usually gets into the day in a big way, doing presentations in departments all over campus, morning and afternoon with a lunch in the middle. That was cut out this year because of the state budget crisis that dragged on from July 2015 to March, but Powers said the university was still open to parents bringing their kids for the day in a more informal way.
“This program is valuable from the standpoint that children can get a real sense of the world of work where their parents disappear to every day, and also hopefully have a light go off inside their heads that brings them to say ‘hey, this is interesting.’ Or ‘wow. I didn't know this is what my mom or dad did. Pretty cool,’” she said. “It also gives parents the opportunity to share their day with their children and encourage them to think broadly about what they may want to do as a career and to not put limits on their dreams.”
Industry acknowledges the benefit, too.
“AccuWeather is an active part of the State College community, where our global headquarters are located, and we’re happy to support 2016 Take Our Daughters and Sons to work day,” said Jeff Jeffries, director of talent acquisition for AccuWeather. “The science and technology of creating superior accuracy in forecasting requires a passion that can be handed down, so we may just be helping to spark the imagination of the next generation of innovators in the weather industry.”
I don’t know if my son is going to develop a passion for writing, or advertising, or graphic design, or accounting. The last I heard, he’s still set on a career in paleontology, or being a ninja.
What I do know is that he’s got options, and he knows a little something about them today.