Last week, Seattle Made and its member businesses invited local youth to tour businesses around the city to get a glimpse into the huge variety of careers available in urban manufacturing. Supported by the Seattle Office of Economic Development and the Port of Seattle, the tours showed young people the possibilities all around them in the local workforce, making products right here in Seattle.
Monday through Thursday, four groups of young people from local youth programs and high schools went on four, full-day tours of local businesses. The participating businesses were:
- Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
- Broadcast Coffee Roasters
- Design by SML
- Firefly Kitchens
- Fran’s Chocolates
- indi chocolate
- Marnin Saylor
- Northwest Wood Design
- Subsonic Skateboards
- The Foundry
- Theo Chocolate
- Uphill Designs Co.
Seattle Made business owners and employees took students on specialized tours of their manufacturing sites, showing them how products are made from start to finish. Students had the chance to ask questions throughout the tours, finding out how each owner started their business, what kind of salaries the workers at the businesses made, and about opportunities that existed in their line of work. Some of the tour hosts also sent students home with a gift at the end of their tour—boxes of chocolates from Fran’s, for example, and freshly-printed t-shirts from The Foundry.
Beecher’s provided lunches and Mighty-O Doughnuts provided snacks. The Seattle Central College Wood Technology Center hosted lunches and tours, and Central Co-Op also contributed reusable shopping bags for students to carry all their tour swag home.
Students who participated in the tours last week were from Southwest Youth & Family Services, TAF@Saghalie, The Center School, and Ingraham High School. Not all of the students are planning for their careers yet, but the Youth Tours were a fun way to get them to start picturing themselves in different jobs.
“I think the youth most enjoyed getting to ask the business people questions and understanding how they got started. I know they will remember the lessons they learned and the creative paths many of the entrepreneurs took as they explore what their own path could be,” said Jillian Fields-Hirschler, a Young Parent Advocate with Southwest Youth & Family Services.
Aiden, a student from TAF@Saghalie, doesn’t know what he wants to do in the future, but touring local makers gave him an idea of what he’s interested in. “I liked the glassblowing [at glassybaby] and the wood place [Northwest Wood Design]. Those were cool.” he said. He’s still not sure he wants to try out these professions for himself, though: “I don’t know, the glassblowing seems a little more dangerous. Really hot.”
Katie, a student at the Center School, was inspired by the visit to Marnin Saylor: “I really like the aspect of like, a really small business, and the sewing component, and possibly would like starting something like this myself one day.”
Throughout K-12 education, students are often told that they should pursue a four-year degree after high school to secure good, stable careers. However, there are many high-paying, rewarding, and in-demand jobs that don’t require a Bachelor’s. Experiences like the Seattle Made Youth Tours are an opportunity to expose students to unique and meaningful career and entrepreneurial opportunities that get them thinking about their interests and help them learn about the many types of education and training they can pursue. It’s especially important for youth (and their families) to see and understand how to access successful career paths that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree.
Seattle Made is a network that connects over 500 local businesses to each other, and to resources they need to ‘make it’ in Seattle. These makers create jobs and help keep Seattle a unique and exciting place to live. Seattle Made partners with its network of businesses to provide several tours throughout the year.
You can learn more about Seattle Made’s Youth Tours on their website. If you have ideas or questions about career-connected learning experiences for young people, reach out to us at the Office of Economic Development by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.