Updated: Apr 29
I've worked at the same company for fifteen years now and for most of those I have been a coordinator for the company's Take Your Child to Work Day events. Also known as Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day or the very clunky TOCTWD abbreviation it is exactly like it sounds, an effort to introduce kid to the workplace. The idea being that children need to see some real world examples of how companies function to help them consider future job possibilities and see the value of an education. The event occurs on the 4th Thursday of April each year but due to Covid we've had to skip the last two.
In 2007 I was nominated to give a speech on what Customer Service did as part of the tour they were organizing. I've always considered myself good with kids and love talking to them (especially mine) so I agreed. Almost immediately I was filled with a sense of dread overthinking the expectation and worried that members of management would be on the tour with their children. Of course it went fine and I even received very positive feedback from not only the kids but the adults within earshot.
The next year when they asked if I would do it again I asked if I could make it an interactive presentation instead. We arranged to have one kid from each of the four tours volunteer to man the "Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Hotline". The idea being that they would be sequestered from the rest of the tour in a cube next to the analysts and nothing more than a telephone, computer and a picture of a PB&J sandwich. The phone would ring and they would get a call from someone needing help making a sandwich. My good buddy Steve played this role and was sitting in the conference room with all the other kids surrounded by the ingredients.
He had a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, two butter knives, a plate and some paper towels. The idea here being that the child would need to give very clear instructions and Steve would follow it to the letter of the law. If they said, "put the peanut butter on the bread" he would literally take the jar of PB and place it on top of the unopened loaf of bread. This always elicited laughter. Steve would respond, "ok I did it but it doesn't look like the picture" going on to describe the situation. The child on the phone now seeing what was necessary would try again being more specific. Sometimes the ambiguity meant Steve was smothering PB&J on the bag of bread or there would be a dozen pieces of bread with ingredients in between them if the kids forgot to specify "2 slices". Back and forth it went with chuckles and messes till they eventually arrived at a reasonable looking sandwich. The teachable moment here being that as a customer service analyst you need to carefully listen to the caller, communicate clearly and work together to resolve the issue all without being able to see what they are doing.
Since the same kids tend to come every year I tried to mix it up each year introducing the kids to ScriptPro Jeopardy complete with buzzers and prizes, a build your own robot challenge and a photo scavenger hunt among others. The scavenger hunt went over so well that it took on a life it's own and evolved from printed game sheets into an interactive game via intercaching.com (a geocaching favorite of mine) and finally into a wild GooseChase complete with scoreboards and bonus challenges At this point I am the longest running participant in TOCTWD at my company.
My ex-wife, her eventual new husband and my wife all either didn't have jobs or had jobs that didn't participate in this event which meant as soon as the kids were old enough they came to work with me. My kids always seemed to enjoy it but eventually they got old enough to where it felt a little awkward to them and they changed to schools that didn't get permission to attend. I am still an active member of the group that puts the event on and hopefully when Covid is over my youngest will get her turn.