When I was younger, take your child to work day was a yearly experience. Most kids would get to play hooky from school for the day and go to work with their parents and see what they did. I vaguely remember going to work with my mom before I started school. She worked at Serigraph at the time, but I don’t recall what she did there. I remember sitting under her desk playing with my Barbies. There was one time that her cubicle partner bought in a dog and I played with it the entire time there. I also believe that I got to play computer games on her computer occasionally. But if you asked me what she did, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. However, this was all before I started school.
I also was lucky enough to have grandparents that owned a restaurant in West Bend called The Five D’s, or, if you knew the family, The D’s. My grandparents would babysit us a lot while my parents worked during the day. I got to wander around the small kitchen and help Grandma prep for the night’s dinner service. I’d wipe down the tables in the dining room and then help Grandpa get the bar area clean. My favorite part was going down in the basement with Grandma to get the cookies and getting to eat some of the frozen cookie dough to make sure it was “just right.” Grandma and Grandpa told me that I used to dance and sing in the bar area while helping Grandpa clean glasses, my “all time favorite” job, if my brothers and I got to stay during a dinner service. I remember the live bands and yearly costume parties for Halloween. I may have even fallen asleep in the dining room a few times. I believe I was six or seven when my grandparents sold The D’s. There still isn’t a restaurant in town that compared to it.
During my elementary years, I spent parent take your child to work day at school. Both my parents had jobs that didn’t allow children to come. My dad worked at factory with heavy machines and saws, while my mom worked third shift at M&I Bank, later changed to Metavante, as a printing press operator. I remember all the kids at school reporting what their parents did and what they got to do at their parents’ job. I felt left out, but I knew why I couldn’t go as both my parents’ jobs were dangerous to have kids running around. It wasn’t until fourth grade that I got to experience this opportunity for myself.
My parents didn’t tell me that I’d be going with Mom to work that night until I got home from school. I believe they told me something that I had to go take a nap, which being a nine-year-old, ticked me off to high heaven. Both my brothers were younger than me and they didn’t have to take naps, so why did I? Then I was told I’d get to go to work with my mom that night. I don’t think I slept at all since I was so excited.
Mom made sure I took a shower and looked presentable, after all you can’t go to work looking like “you just got out of bed.” We drove to her building in Brown Deer, which seemed huge to me. I was sure I’d get lost and never be able to find my way out, but Mom assured me that everything would be okay. Walking into the printing press room was a whirl wind. Mom and her team ran the presses that printed statements for an electric company, different banks, and printed checks. The room itself was pretty loud. Imagine the sound of about five to ten printers running at the same time and spitting out these statements. The floor had little bridges going over the “paper canals” so that people didn’t accidentally rip the statements.
One of the machines ran out of paper while I was there. I got to help Mom and another one of her coworkers with her daughter change. Well, to be honest, they supervised while we changed it. I thought it would be like putting paper in the printer at home, boy was I wrong! Their paper was on a huge spool that you rolled into place (they helped us roll it as we weren’t quite strong enough) and fed into the press.
I also got to help make sure that the presses were printing the statement correctly. I made sure that the names and numbers lined up correctly on the right areas. I don’t recall if there were any mistakes while I was there, but Mom told me how they would have to scrap and shred ones that weren’t correct and go into the database and tweak the measurements so it was right. That lead to my favorite job, shredding incorrect documents. It didn’t happen often, but machines make mistakes. It wasn’t the most glamorous of jobs, but it was very satisfying.
Another job that my mom’s department oversaw was creating microfiches. These were statements made really small so that twenty of them fit on an 8.5×11 piece of paper. I got to check to see that everyone’s statement made it to these microfiches. Mom gave me a list of names to look for, I’d look under a microscope for the names, and then check it off the list. If a name didn’t appear, I had to tell one of them and they’d fix it.
I know I fell asleep once in a lull, but the experience was amazing. I remember crashing when we got home the next morning and dreaming of swimming in the paper canals. The next day at school, I got to stand up in front of class and report about my mom’s job. I remember feeling on top of the world because none of the other kids’ parents had third shift jobs. I bragged about the ice cream sundae party the whole company had for us during lunch time and staying up all night while they slept.
Now that I think about it, I believe that parents take your child to work day is a wonderful experience, but those who have parents who are unemployed or can’t do to work with them should have an opportunity to experience it was well. I think it would be great to have various members of the school like the janitor, the principal, or the lunch service members show the kids what they do to make sure the school is cleaned, ran smoothly, and served lunch daily. This way the children experience the workforce and learn how their school is ran while others get to see what’s out in the community.
I would love the chance to go to work with my parents again. As a young adult working on getting my degree, I only know the work force from fast food and retail experience. I would love to know what it’s like to work in an office and deal with international companies like my mom now does as a SWaP Analysis at GE Healthcare in Waukesha. I know that she checks the warranties of various broken parts and orders them with the companies that GE works with to get the machines up and running again. As a woman aspiring to work for a publishing company as an editor, seeing and hearing what my mom does could help me in the workforce later, especially when dealing with international companies.
Yes, there are internships and job shadowing experiences offered at various places, but I think that the pressure of being good at what your doing isn’t there when you are just seeing what your parent is doing. You may not be interested in the job your parent has, but you’d be surprised what you’d learn in that one day just learning about what they do. You learn how a team works, how to communicate with various coworkers and other company representatives, how a company works, and gain precious experience. That one day could open a door to exciting possibilities. It’d be something that I’d love to do. Perhaps, one day, I can.