Free food? Check. Office scooters? Yep. Foosball and ping pong? You know it! It’s no secret that Vendasta is a fun place to work. In fact, Flow, a local lifestyle magazine, named us as the #1 workplace in Saskatoon. And if you ask anyone around here, I’m sure they’ll agree!
That’s why Vendasta was beyond excited to participate in Canada’s 2016 Take Our Kids To Work Day, supported by The Learning Partnership. Finally; Vendastamoms and Vendastadads have a chance to show their kids how cool they really are. #VendastaKidsToWork
The group of four kids started their day with a DIY breakfast from our fully-stocked employee kitchen. Eggs, bacon, cereal, oatmeal, fruit… pretty much anything you can imagine (erm, pickled eggs? Smoked kippers?). There’s definitely something for everyone at Vendasta, and all in thanks to one of the participating moms—Jodie! As the company’s Hospitality Coordinator, Jodie understands the importance of food in the workplace, and was able to provide our group of kids with some valuable stats and hands on learning.
After a few quick games of foosball, our People Operations team provided the kids with an engaging health and safety demonstration, followed by a tour around the office. The Avenue Building, Vendasta’s HQ, is a historical landmark in Saskatoon, chock full of interesting sights to see. Constructed in 1912, the building was originally known as the MacMillan Department Store. MacMillan, who built the Avenue Building, later became the Mayor of Saskatoon. The atriums and elaborate tilework along the walls are still in place today, but instead of housing department store goods, the building now holds meetings, hackathons and, on #KidsToWork day, kids!
Wednesday is fruit day, and Jodie needed some helpers! The kids had a chance to experience hands-on what it’s like to prepare a fruit buffet for 200+ hungry employees. Not only did they get to see how much planning and effort is involved in coordinating such an event, but it also served as a fantastic learning opportunity on how to start the day with a healthy jolt of brain food: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, yogurt and sugar-free granola.
Starting a Career
When the time came for the first presentation, each kid was provided with their very own Chromebook to use for the day. Things kicked-off in a session all about Building Your Resume in LinkedIn – provided by our Sales Marketing Manager Amy Gill. Gone are the days of handing in a paper resume during a job application; everything about your professional life lives on LinkedIn! Since our students are only in grade nine and are looking to each get their very first job, this session served as a perfect stepping stone.
And in the blink of an eye, the day was already half over! Pizza and veggies were served for lunch, followed by something the kids were likely dreading all day: FLU SHOTS! Not mandatory, but we brought in a clinic for all staff and their families.
Careers in Marketing
Right after lunch, the kids sat down to a presentation about marketing by Nykea Behiel, our Director of Content. There’s a saying that marketing has changed more in the past 10 years than it had in the previous 50, and while these grade nine kids might not remember how things were, we wanted to give them a taste of what things could be.
A business’s reputation used to be what they said it was in their advertising. The stories brands spread on televisions, in commercials or in the pages of a newspaper are no longer simply accepted as the truth. Today, a brand is more about what customers say about a business and less about what a business says about itself. This was pretty obvious with the kids in our session—most of them don’t use their home phone line, read the newspaper, have cable television, etc. Audiences are now segmented across multiple platforms, and this divide is especially obvious with the youngins.
We started the Change in Marketing and Future Careers session by looking at some old commercials and newer examples of marketing. We watched a vintage Oreo commercial to see what advertising looked like in the 80s.
Then we looked at Oreo’s 100 day twist campaign, where the iconic brand created an image that related to news stories each day for 100 days. Oreo touched on everything from gay pride to the Mars landing, panda Shin-Shin’s birth to Shark Week.
So what careers can grade nine kids look for in marketing? Aside from the expansive list in Nykea’s presentation, the job they’re looking for might not even exist yet…
The X Factor, UXUI Design
What’s a day in the life of a software company without some practice building software! To submerge the students in a bit of problem solving, Dan Stumph, one of our designers, showed the difference between user experience and user interface design. Students learnt the fundamental differences between the two concepts and how it impacts the final outcome of the applications they use every day. They watched a short video on how design is impacting business decisions all over the world, and how companies like Facebook, Pinterest, and Dropbox are making an impact on the ever changing market of software by applying user-first design thinking to their process. The students performed their very own story mapping session to discover the necessary parts of a log-in workflow and had the chance to draw a wireframe of the concept. The session wrapped up with them walking through their drawings to explain their perspective on the surprisingly complex workflow.
Software design has a variety of paths that can lead to or extend from; starting from graphic design and web design, all the way to computer science and human computer interaction.
Creative Writing for Social Media
What look inside a company like Vendasta would be complete without some time spend in our Digital Agency! Before we got down to the nitty gritty of writing actual posts, the writing team shared their paths to the writer’s room. This insight let the students know that even though they might have an idea in their head about what the career of writer looks like, there are many ways to get there! Most of these ninth graders have interacted with Facebook and know a bit about Twitter, but with the help of Chris Bernhard, Project Coordinator of the the Digital Agency Writing team, they actually learned about the artform and intricacy of social media posting and what businesses might look for in a social media post in order to better reach their audience via various social media platforms. After a brief discussion, the imagination went wild on creating their very own social posts for businesses near and far away!