These Grand Rapids Businesses Give Free Tours to Kids Who Want to Explore a Career

Career Exploration for Kids in West Michigan

Did you know that Bill Gates began programming computers at age 13 and Mozart started composing music at 11?  Both are considered prodigies in their fields, but what you really don’t hear about is how much time they spent honing their craft as youngsters.  

Sure they had talent, but they spent a significant amount of time developing that talent before they achieved any  success or notoriety.

Aspiring kids need to see examples of curiosity and hard work over a number of years develop into expertise. So many people think Bill Gates stumbled into his garage and magically created Microsoft.  That just wasn’t the case.

Kids also need to see and start connecting the pathways of their interests to eventual careers.  Anything we can do to help them develop a skill, learn about a career, or narrow down an area of interest will benefit them as they navigate the pathways of their own lives.

The Big List of FREE Places Kids can Explore Careers Around West Michigan

Whatever your child’s area of interest there are programs available locally to help them cultivate that interest and explore possible career paths.

Our community has a diverse mix of universities, municipalities, corporations, and educational institutions that open their doors to our children.  The list below is a sampling of what is available in our area. I encourage you to seek out other opportunities specific to your child’s interest. 

Architecture and Technology

Apple Store Mini Camps

Mini camps specialize in coding, digital song creation, and digital video creation.

Minimum Age |  Varies by program

Meyer May Architectural Home Tour

Tour a restored and preserved Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Minimum Age | None

Energy, Environment, and Sustainability

City of Grand Rapids – Lake Michigan Filtration Plant Tour

This plant tour covers the facility that filtered and pumped 13 billion gallons of water to the City of Grand Rapids and surrounding areas in 2017.  

Minimum Age |  8 years old

City of Grand Rapids – Waste Water Treatment Plant Tour

During this 90 minute tour you will learn about the water treatment process from start to finish.

Minimum Age |  8 years old

Holland Board of Public Works – Sustainability Education Events

Multiple seminars and events offered throughout the year.

Minimum Age | Varies by event

Holland Energy Park – Power Plant Tour

Tour of the newly built 125 megawatt combined cycle natural gas power plant. This power plant provides power and heat for Holland’s snow melt system.

Minimum Age | None

Kent County Recycling Center – Facilities tour

This one hour tour features a classroom discussion on recycling and a facility walking tour.

Minimum Age |  None

Kent County Waste to Energy Power Plant – Educational Seminar and Power Plant Tour

This plant processes and recycles municipal waste and incinerates trash to generate electricity.

Minimum Grade: | 5th grade

Health and Safety

Fire Department Tours and Events

Local fire departments host open houses and events in the community.  Please contact your local department for information.

Minimum Age |  None

Police Department Tours and Events

Local police departments host open houses and events throughout the year.  Please contact your local station for details.

Minimum Age | None

Kent County Mounted Police Training Facility

Tours are available on non-event days by appointment only. Kids get a tour of the facility, get to see the stables up close and take a lap on a police horse around the indoor arena.

Minimum Age | None

Manufacturing and Construction

DeKlomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory – Tour

Watch as artisans mold and hand paint delftware pottery and carve wooden shoes.

Minimum Age | None

Home Depot – Do-It-Yourself Workshops

Free workshops cover a variety of topics and skills.

Minimum Age | None, but parental supervision required


Tourism and Culinary Arts

Fifth Third Ballpark – Facilities Tour

Tours are a great way for people to get a “behind the scenes” look at how a professional baseball stadium is run.

Minimum Age | None

Van Andel Arena – Facilities Tour

Tours are available on non-event days by appointment only.

Minimum Age | None

Sprinkles Donuts – Hudsonville

 Tours are available on non-event days by appointment only. Kids get a tour of the donut making facilities and get to frost a donut.

Minimum Age | None

Culvers – Wyoming

Tours are available on non-event days by appointment only. Kids get a tour of the food prep area as well as the freezer. Free small ice cream at the end.

Minimum Age | None

Veterinarian and Zookeeper

Humane Society of West Michigan – Volunteer Opportunities

Help socialize, walk, and care for animals.  Opportunities also exist for volunteers looking to help with adoption assistance and administrative functions.  Minimum 6 month commitment and 6 hours per month.

Minimum Age | 16 years old

John Ball Zoo – Zookeeper Job Shadow

This program was designed to meet school job shadow requirements. (Cost is Free, but student must provide documentation that program is required.)

Minimum Grade | 10th grade

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