The opportunity to expose children to possible future careers, as well as their parents’/guardians’ place of work, was clearly on display at this year’s Barnes & Noble College, “Take Your Child to Work Day.” The Company has been hosting the program at its Basking Ridge, N.J. headquarters for 12 years and has become a much anticipated event for both employees and their children. This year, Barnes & Noble College hosted its largest class ever with over 100 children, ranging in age from eight to 13 years. Based on the 2017 national theme, Count on Me, the day was designed with lessons in reliability and accountability, while also presenting an important opportunity to expose children to different career choices, in an office setting, at an early age.
The key to making the event both educational and successful is to make the experience fun, as Human Resources Manager, Maria Lucchesi explains. “We strive to engage the children by keeping the activities and presentations on their level — helping them make the connection to work,” she says. “Our employees, who plan their department’s activity, are so creative using games, social media, science and team-building exercises — and I’m very proud that our company allows us to put so many resources behind this event.”
The jam-packed day began as each child received a t-shirt and company I.D. badge, followed by breakfast and review of the day’s agenda. Throughout the day, everyone participated in activities, including a wordsearch game with the Trade Books department, a teamwork building exercise using spaghetti and marshmallows with Inventory Control and a “Family Feud” game with Vendor Relations. The Finance department presented “Jeopardy” on a giant screen, with participants using buzzers that were too tempting to resist — even before the game began. Human Resources also went through a mock scenario of “the life of a new hire,” beginning with a pretend interview and taking them all the way through the process of receiving their first paychecks. “We are a company that cares and this is a great thing to do for our employees,” Lucchesi says. “The entire Home Office comes together to make this event such a huge success.”
One of the unintended, but wonderful things that has come out of the program, are the many friendships that have formed between the children. Some, who began the program when they were first eligible, come back every year and have bonded with each other. “We have many children who return year after year,” Lucchesi explains. “My son has remained friends with someone he met here — even after aging out of the program.” Shelly Zanowicz, from Learning & Development, whose twelve-year-old son Luke has attended the event for the past four years, said that his favorite part of the day was, “seeing all of his friends again.”
The Company’s “teamwork” philosophy transfers seamlessly to the planning and execution of the day. “If it wasn’t for everyone’s interest in coming together to contribute, it wouldn’t be a success,” says Lucchesi. “There’s a special camaraderie that takes place behind the scenes — and our Home Office gives their time, unconditionally, to this event,” she says. Maryanne Alvarez, from Human Resources, and a key person behind the scenes making the program happen, says, “It’s a big undertaking, but in the end, it’s so worth it to know that the kids got so much out of it!”
Kim Doyle, from Legal, said her 8-year-old son Brendan especially liked the tour of the building, which included hands-on experience on an actual POS cash register, which is used in campus bookstores. “I am not exaggerating when I say my son loved it — and he told me that night, he already cannot wait to attend next year,” says Doyle. “I truly appreciate all of the team’s hard work on the event. It was a great success and left a big impression on my son — he even wore his Barnes & Noble College t-shirt to school the next day!”
That feeling was confirmed by Zanowicz’s son as well. “On the way home, my son was able to tell me exactly what recruitment means and how the process works,” says Zanowicz. “He learned as much about work as he did having fun that day.”