Experiences and learning outside of the classroom can really shape a child’s perspective, particularly when it comes to making decisions about what sort of work they might want to pursue. As important as formal education is, kids also learn from the school of life.
While it seems like kids need no help understanding technology in their day-to-day-lives, many might not necessarily think about technology in a career capacity. Particularly for young girls, there is an opportunity to encourage them to explore this sector. Research by the Computing Technology Industry Association found that 69 percent of women, who have not pursued careers in information technology attribute their choice to not knowing what opportunities are available to them.
Programs like “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” are great tools for broadening kids’ perspectives of different jobs that are available — roles they might not have even thought existed.
For Jo Amato-Tuck, global partner development manager, Microsoft, the opportunity to inspire kids is deeply personal. She is a member of the Parent Employee Resource Group, which sponsors Bring your Kids to Work Day for the more than 40,000 employees in Redmond, Washington, and thousands more in remote offices at Microsoft. What’s more, Jo is a mother of three children, all of whom are at an age where they are asking more questions not only about their mom’s work, but about what sorts of jobs might interest them (besides being Adele someday).
She touts that sparking imagination and inspiration in kids is particularly important for young girls, who might feel like a career in technology isn’t for them. “Young women visiting our office see diverse women working in myriad areas. It gives them real, tangible proof that there are many successful women in technology, so they can pursue a career in technology one day.”
Amato-Tuck has the following advice for parents hoping to spark discussions about career ambitions with kids:
* Find out what your kids are genuinely curious about, setting aside your own hopes or aspirations of what sort of work they’ll pursue. Foster that interest through books, videos or other research in fun, relatable ways.
* Take advantage of programs like Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. If your profession doesn’t line up with their interests, don’t take it personally: Perhaps see if you can arrange a visit with a family member or friend whose career piques their curiosity.
* Bring your child to work, even for short visits. It helps them understand your life outside of being a parent and gives them context on what you do while they are at school.
* It is never too early to build mentorships. Take them to places where they might meet a professional that they can look up to and encourage them to ask meaningful questions. It is also a great opportunity to build social skills like sending a follow-up note to thank that person for their time.