Many Grade 9 students across Canada were absent from their desks on Wednesday. No, they weren’t cutting class or sick with the flu; instead they were put to work at their parents jobs during the 18th annual Take Our Kids to Work Day.
In Waterloo Region, many large companies such as RIM, Manulife Financial and Home Hardware in St. Jacobs held events for the day’s young visitors.
“I learned how shelves are stocked, how orders are made, how to make inventory – the basics of a retail store,” said Julia Pilecki, who was shadowing her mother Karen at the Home Hardware paint department in downtown St. Jacobs.
During the day the two had a chance to spiff-up the window display with early Christmas decorations and placed mustaches on the trees for Movember.
“It’s kind of different to have someone on your heels all the time, but it was nice to see her interests outside of the house and put some thought and energy into something,” Karen said of the day with her daughter.
This year 250,000 Grade 9 students and 5,000 businesses and organizations across Canada participated in the event.
The program is headed by the Learning Partnership, which operates out of Toronto and focuses on public education. The group’s director of communications, Carol Davies, said the program was started to jog both parents and students in to thinking practically about future career paths.
“I think it helps them understand the skills and educational requirements needed to get where they might like to go,” she said on Wednesday.
Davies said Grade 9 students benefit most because they are entering a critical point in their high school education, where they have to start seriously thinking about career possibilities after graduation. A contest is held in the six weeks leading up to the event. The during Ultimate Dream Job Contest students can send in photos of their dream jobs along with a 25-word description for a chance to win prizes. This year’s grand prize winner is from Ottawa and had a chance to meet with the Governor General during the day. A police officer being his dream job, he also met with the chief of police.
Pilecki may not have her future career sights on a job in a hardware store, but says the experience was nevertheless a good lesson in organization, management and interaction with customers.
“I will be working at my dad’s store in the summer and it’s nice to see how a retail store works,’ she said.