The question to the group of kids was an easy one: “How many of you like to play video games?” was asked — and, of course, nearly every hand went up. But unlike so many Bring Your Kids to Work Day activities around the state Thursday, this was not just a time filler during the day at Pansonic’s headquarters in Newark.The question to the group of kids was an easy one:
“How many of you like to play video games?” was asked — and, of course, nearly every hand went up.
But unlike so many Bring Your Kids to Work Day activities around the state Thursday, this was not just a time filler during the day at Pansonic’s headquarters in Newark.
And it didn’t come from an adult employee at the company.
The question came from a group of kids presenting to other kids of nearly the same age.
When Panasonic decided to broaden its program to include older kids (13- to 15-year-olds), it knew it needed to reach them in a different way.
So it brought in a group of their peers, high school kids participating in a semester-long weekend STEM program at NJIT, to show the children of Panasonic employees how much kids in their age group already are doing in the field.
Dana Viri, the leader of Panasonic’s take your kids to work day program, felt having kids talk to kids would be a unique way to keep everyone involved.
“When we decided to open it to older kids this year, we knew it would be easier to be engaged at a higher level, but we wanted to do it in a special way,” she said. “We’ve established a great partnership working with NJIT, so we felt this could be a great connection.”
The children of Panasonic employees heard a number of short presentations, involving everything from STEM careers to robotics to filmmaking to coding. And, of course, game making.
The Panasonic kids heard from teens that were mainly sophomores and juniors in high school how they were not just playing games, but learning to create them.
The kids were seeing real-life examples of STEM projects.
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Stephen Cafiero, the HR group manager who heads Panasonic’s commitment to equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, diversity, inclusion and recruiting, said he hopes the day will resonate in the years to come.
“We’re trying drive the concept of STEM recruiting at an earlier age, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity,” he said.
Cafiero, who works with a number of local high schools and colleges on a daily basis, came up with the idea of bringing younger students to the event.
Hearing from adults, he said, is nice. But perhaps not as effective as hearing it from your peers.
“We work with kids in local colleges and high schools, so we said, ‘Let’s have them talk about their experiences, have them talk demonstrate some of the great things they are working on and have them help us drum up that interest in these 13-15-year-olds and have them think: it would be really cool to work here.’ ”
Viri, who has been part of the team organizing Panasonic’s bring your kids to work day program for 10 years, said she plans on making this unique kids talking to kids session a permanent fixture moving forward.
“Our goal was to educate them about what Panasonic is and what do we here — and maybe make them think would this be a place where they would be interested in working,” she said.
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