A glimpse into the mind of Carolyn McKecuen, Director of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation, and the essential tools needed to get kids thinking about their futures.
Sitting down for my Zoom meeting with Carolyn McKecuen, executive director of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, I was armed with a host of traditional interview questions. Upon meeting Carolyn, with her warm Southern energy and her ability to make anyone feel at ease, I got lost in a conversation. My prepared questions no longer felt appropriate. Not in this personal and intimate setting. We were sharing stories of childhood, of learning about oneself and reflecting on the past. Carolyn asked me how I started writing, where I was living and the name of my dog. I was sure that I must have felt like the hundreds (if not thousands) of children she’s spoken to over the years. I felt important, valued and interesting. Carolyn’s goal has always been to “engage youth, especially in underserved areas,” to give them a voice and an understanding of the opportunities they have in life.
Making Girls Visible
This year is the 28th Anniversary of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, which takes place on the fourth Thursday of every April. With more than 44 million participants in the United States, and many more across 187 countries, we look back to its inception in 1993.
Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation founded the event to “make girls visible, valued and heard in the workforce.” In 2003 they expanded it to include boys and rebranded as the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation®. “We are furthering our mission of creating a more equitable world where all children have the opportunity to be exposed to different work options and to become productive in their community.” COVID-19 has changed the way this year’s event looks but Carolyn and the team are not fazed. In fact, they have embraced this new opportunity for greater reach and a chance to “tap into technologies that have brought the world together during this time of increased isolation.”
A Virtual Event
This year’s Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day program offers a hybrid virtual option. Below are just a handful of their fascinating speakers:
- Time magazine’s Kid of the Year, Gitanjali Rao
- Steve Spangler and his amazing science experiences
- President of NouSoma Communications, Ellen Langas
- Gloria Steinem herself
In addition to live speakers, there will be Q&A sessions, interactive moments and videos showcasing a vast array of different jobs:
- Game Designers
- Climate Change Scientists
- TV Hosts
- And more
Carolyn notes that the limitations of COVID-19 has given the Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day Foundation® opportunities to expand and reach more children than ever before. But she also acknowledges that it has been a hard year. She feels strongly that kids need to know that sitting at the computer all day is not the only job out there. She says, “they need to understand … you could be an underwater photographer!”
The chosen theme this year is “Boldly Moving Forward.” Both Carolyn and the foundation at large “are ready to be a part of moving forward towards a more positive future.”
Keeping Kids Interested at Home
Carolyn’s generosity was tangible. She shared stories of the many wonderful children she has met through the years. We spoke about her past as a nurse, becoming a parent and operating a nonprofit. She told me how she taught her own children about the world of work and the jobs out there. “They loved the bowling alley; we would take them [there] and have them work there for an hour. I stayed with one child and [my husband] stayed with the other and we’d help them put the pins back. I remember when they came home, they said ‘That’s not what I want to do!’” We laughed at this memorable anecdote, but it was exactly the kind of response she’d hoped for. Not to have them dislike the experience but for them to have a sense of what they wanted from life.
Carolyn’s goal has always been to “boost appreciation of the work-based mind.” An integral aspect of that is providing kids with the confidence to try out new things, to fail and to try again. We spoke about self-esteem and the importance of supporting kids at a certain age to not lose it. As kids grow into their adolescence, insecurities begin to pop up and the world starts expecting more of them. They’re required to know where they’re going before they even know what their options are. Carolyn is hell-bent on making those options clear. Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day encourages kids to explore. Thus making the transition from childhood to adulthood a little smoother.
Visit their website and learn more about the event.