Career Day at Kilbourn School

March 22, 2019By Acts of Kindness, Behind the Shelf Blog, Tradition of Giving

By Julie Bonnell, vice president operations, for the Tradition of Giving blog series

I had the opportunity to speak to 90 third, fourth, and fifth grade students at Kilbourn Elementary on the west side of Milwaukee for their Career Day. Ms. LaMarre, a teacher at the school, invited me to share my background as well as talk about careers in the retail supply chain. I am a former Milwaukee Public School (MPS) student, having attended Hi-Mount Elementary School and Milwaukee Washington High School; I also attended UW-Milwaukee for my undergraduate.

The young people were very engaged, and we talked about how many different career paths touch retail. We talked about brand management — how each student had their own brand, just like Beyoncé and Michael Jordan — and the need to protect it, as well as how the things they did in life would contribute to it.

We talked about package design, designing how categories are arranged, how decisions about what a store should carry are made, and how to appropriately price products. I discussed women in leadership roles and shared that the president of my company was also a woman. I spoke about how teachers are your mentors, touching briefly on two teachers who helped me figure out what I wanted to do for a profession.Happy student

My favorite question was from one young man who asked me if there was anything that I learned in 5th grade I still use. “Absolutely!” I responded, “It’s very important to be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide!” This caused a bit of laughter from the adults in the room, but it’s true — every timeline or quote, time I am looking at process improvements, I am using those skills.

I closed the presentation with encouragement to also consider how they will give back to their community. I used some of the examples of what we do here at HRG as ways we can all give back with our time and talent to make the community a stronger place to live and work.

Afterwards, the students in Ms. LaMarre’s class told me what their dreams for future careers looked like. They spoke from their hearts about being soldiers, dentists, veterinarians, painters, musicians, dancers, and rap artists. My favorite was the young woman who aspires to be a doctor. She plans on having her own office and perhaps one day, she may even have a hospital.

These will be the people running the world when I retire, and I am optimistic for the future when I hear of their aspirations! I know I walked away having gained insights on how they think, and I like to think I gave them something in return as well.