What do you do when you can’t take your kids to work on Take Our Kids to Work Day? For McCain Foods, you take work to them!
Because of the pandemic, many New Brunswick students again could not participate in onsite workplace activities on Take Our Kids to Work Day
, held on November 3 this year. So McCain Foods – Lead Corporate Hub Sponsor for Take Our Kids to Work 2021 presented by RBC Future Launch – hosted a virtual event for 130 students at Carleton North High School (CNHS) in Florenceville, New Brunswick on December 2.
The Learning Partnership helped connect McCain Foods’ Senior Manager, Human Resources Tara Orchard with CNHS Guidance Counsellor Sophie Albright to organize the session so that the company – one of the area’s largest employers – could present to Grade 9s the careers at McCain Foods.
Jordan Davenport, Senior Manager, Potato Product Supply, responds to students at Carleton North High School, Florenceville, NB, while colleagues (top to bottom) Tara Orchard, Patrick Rutter and Ashley Lake listen in.
“McCain is so much bigger than a plant where we make french fries,” said Tara. “We offer a wide range of careers for every level of skill and education. On Take Our Kids to Work Day we are actively supporting the education of future generations who will soon be moving into the workforce.”
Students had a chance to learn about product development, plant operations, supply chain management, quality control, and other exciting careers at McCain Foods. They also got to hear first-hand how McCain employees have navigated their own careers, including the links between what they studied and their current roles.
Ashley Lake, Product Development Manager at McCain and a 12-year McCain Foods employee, studied biochemistry in university but wanted a career with real-life application: “I studied food science," she told the students, "and really had no idea about what food science was before looking at a Master's program."
Izzy A., a student whose favourite subjects are biology and chemistry, said: “I found [Ashley’s] description of food sciences really interesting.” Izzy wants to be a surgeon and her career exploration is already well underway. “The medical field has always just clicked for me. My mom buys things to help me like textbooks of medical terminology and a suture pad so I can practice suturing.”
Some of the students who participated in McCain Foods Virtual Take Our Kids to Work Day Career Exploration event at Carleton North High School (L to R): Simon S, Izzy A, Emma G and Amariah D.
Patrick Rutter, Plant Manager, Prepared Foods, has held 11 different roles in his 20-year career with McCain Foods and has had the opportunity to live in three provinces and in the United States. Grade 9 student Simon Steeves was impressed with Patrick's explanation of why McCain decided to discontinue its frozen pizza business in North America: “He was talking about competitors who sell frozen pizza products and said it was as if Chapman's ice cream had one plant that sells french fries. I think it was cool that they could recognize that and also be open and be honest about their big competitors.” Simon, whose favourite subject is English and who enjoys writing fiction, is looking to a career in the military like his older brother.
Jordan Davenport, Senior Manager, Potato Product Supply and a 2007 graduate of Carleton North High School himself, spoke to the students about his role in supply chain management and the current global supply challenges created by the pandemic. He said that he and his colleagues must monitor and solve complex, real-world problems that are constantly in flux. He also spoke about aspects of his job that were tough, including the challenge of working from home for the last two years. He shared, as a people leader, the importance of supporting his team’s mental health through these challenging times.
The students asked some provocative and thoughtful questions that allowed McCain employees to provide real-world insights into how businesses function, a hallmark of Take Our Kids to Work Day –
Canada's highest-profile career exploration event. How was McCain able to expand globally? Who are its biggest competitors and what are its top three products? Who knows the secret recipe for McDonald’s french fries? (Some of them do but they can’t tell!) Are there any student summer jobs in Florenceville? What's the hardest part about the presenters' jobs?
McCain Foods is proud to be part of Take Our Kids to Work Day to let the next generations know that we are an employer of choice. As a global company with a massive reach, we are proud of the diversity in our workforce – anybody and everybody can have an opportunity to work at McCain.
- Tara Orchard, Senior Manager HR, McCain Foods
The students' questions allowed an exploration of McCain’s scope and size. McCain Foods, has annual global sales of over $10 billion with sales in more than 160 countries around the world. It is McDonald’s sole supplier of french fries in Canada and one of their main suppliers in the US and globally. One in every four french fries around the world is made by McCain – that’s a LOT of fries. The iconic Deep ‘n’ Delicious cakes and pizza pockets are made at the McCain Prepared Foods manufacturing plant in Florenceville, NB and distributed across Canada (some cakes were delivered to Carleton North students to enjoy along with swag bags during this event).
Student Emma G. was impressed by McCain’s global reach: “I thought it was really cool that we can make that much food and supply it to other parts of the world from a business that's based around here and started in such a small town.”
McCain employees also connected with students through this year’s TOKW Career Mentor campaign. Eight McCain employees, including Ashley and Jordan, answered student career questions submitted from all over Canada in the lead-up to Take Our Kids to Work Day on November 3.
The Career Mentor campaign
has come to be an important connection point for students and employers over the past two years, when visiting workplaces in person has been largely impossible. The campaign engages students, parents and educators in career exploration and connects them with the resources available to guide them on whatever path they choose. The 60 Career Mentors who participated this year brought a great variety of lived and professional experiences representative of Canada's diverse population, underscoring this year's diversity and inclusion theme "You Belong Here".
The opportunity to gain professional insights on a specific career students might be interested in is valuable. One of the benefits of TOKW is that it sparks students’ ideas of how to research careers and seek out career mentors. Amariah DeRier, who wants to work in dentistry, said: “I would probably go to [my childhood dentist] and ask him where did he start and how long did it take him to get to where he is now. Was it worth it? Is he happy with his decision?”
Emma, who wants to be an oncologist, said: “I would ask [my career mentor] how they get through it because I know it can be very difficult to watch people go through [treatment] when we know that we don't have a cure for cancer. I would want to ask them where they get their motivation and if they would still choose that profession or if they would take back their time and do something else.”
For Sophie Albright, Guidance Counsellor at CNHS, the day was a hit: “Students drive by McCain every day, but they often don’t see the depth or global scope of the company. The McCain hosts not only provided the students with valuable information, a deeper sense of community pride, and information on a variety of career opportunities, but they did this with enthusiasm that sparked student interest and engagement.”
The sentiments were similar on the McCain side: “We were very impressed with the high level of engagement and the insightful questions that the students posed,” said Tara. “We ran out of time to answer all the questions from students, which in itself probably shows the success of the event!”
While she noted that interacting in person is always optimal, Tara felt the virtual delivery allowed McCain employees to connect with more students than they would be able to do onsite. McCain will continue to participate in Take Our Kids to Work Day events through both onsite and virtual opportunities. Tara observed that events like this provide value for career exploration and community connection, allow McCain to learn more about what students are interested in, and are fun for their employees. At The Learning Partnership, we’ll continue to help facilitate these kinds of meaningful interactions between students, schools and businesses that bring real-world workplaces and careers to life for students during Take Our Kids to Work Day and beyond.