Why You Should Speak at Your Child’s Career Day
Earlier this year, my son’s school asked for volunteers to speak at Career Day. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities I can’t take at my son’s school because they conflict with my work schedule. However, this would take about forty-five minutes of my time and well, since I love my job, it’s easy to talk about it.
I’m used to speaking in front of groups both large and small. I’ve spoken to rooms filled with hundreds of public relations practitioners, to a board room of discerning global managing directors, and moderated panels to a room full of entrepreneurial, digitally savvy women. I’ve also pitched business to potential clients too many times to count and have been a spokesperson for a couple of brands.
So sharing my occupation with twenty pre-kindergarten students should be a piece of cake, right?
Not so much.
Trying to explain marketing to a room full of four and five year olds is no easy feat. Add to this that I work a flexible schedule and telecommute? I had my work cut out for me.
When I arrived the kids were being read to by the teacher for a break in between parents. The mother who had just finished talking to the class leaned over and whispered, half giggling, “Your son told me that you work from home so you get to do whatever you want.” Ha. Sounds like a great gig to anyone, not just a five year old. This was going to be a doozy.
I had outlined a general idea of where I was going to take my presentation. But with five year olds, there was no telling what could happen so I mentally prepared myself for anything.
I started the presentation by holding up my iPhone and asking how many of their mommies and daddies had one. Twenty little adorable hands shot up into the air. And they did again when I asked how many of them had computers in their house.
When I asked them about televisions, not only did they all raise their hands, but they were nodding excitedly. I realized at that moment I better get to my point, otherwise I might disappoint them when I had to break the news that I don’t know Jake from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”.
I explained to them that when we see commercials on television that we can’t let the commercial know how we feel about the product they are talking about. However, when we’re online, there are ways that we can communicate with the products we like and even those we don’t like or make us mad.
The week before Career Day, we had experienced lots of power outages in our area from a snow storm. I asked the kids if they had lost electricity at their houses during the storm. Most of them raised their hands to indicated that they had, indeed, lost power.
Then I asked them how that made them feel and how it made their family feel.
“Mad, “ volunteered one child.
“Really, really mad,” said another.
“Very frustrated,” chimed in a little girl.
I then went on to explain to them that I knew a lot of people were mad, and so did the electric company, because during the power outages lots of people were using their mobile phones to complain on Facebook and Twitter. And that the electric company was responding to some of those complaints online.
It seemed as though many of the children were starting to understand, so I went on to describe how people used to have to write a letter to complain about something. As a result, it would take weeks for anyone to hear back from a company...if they even heard back at all. Now? Thanks to technology, we can express how we feel and get a response, sometimes within minutes.
Speaking at Career Day was probably one of the most challenging speaking engagements I’ve had to date. However, it was great because it reminded me of the building blocks on which I have built my career on. The marketer in me really, really wanted to me to cover relationship building through trust, business development, and strategy. However, I think I’ll wait until my son is in high school for that kind of detail.
So, with that said, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to speak at your child’s Career Day if asked. And when you do, I’ll offer this advice:
- Keep it simple.
- Use real-life examples that they will understand.
- Ask questions and make it interactive.