In many middle and high schools across the United States, students have the opportunity to complete a job shadowing project. What, exactly, is job shadowing? It’s a way for students to learn more about a career they’re considering. Basically, the student “shadows” (or follows and observes) an individual working in the field of interest, thus getting a firsthand glimpse of the career in question.
As a writer, I’ve been shadowed twice. My husband, who’s an engineer, has also been shadowed. In essence, it’s about being a career mentor for an afternoon. It’s a rewarding activity for the person being shadowed and a very useful project for the student. Far too often a teenager sets off on a career path, perhaps investing a great deal of time, money and effort into a training or college program, only to discover that he or she has chosen the wrong field, one that doesn’t really hold their interest. Job shadowing helps avoid this unfortunate scenario by helping the young person see, firsthand and early on, what the job is all about.
Help A Student By Agreeing To A Shadow Request
If a student asks to shadow you in your work environment, say yes! Get the necessary permissions from your manager. Schedule a time that works well for you and the student. Typically, the student will need about two to three hours of job shadowing time. Try to work with the student’s schedule so as to not interfere with his classes. Give the student clear instructions on how to get to your place of work. If you work from home, it may be advisable to meet in a neutral location such as a coffee shop. For example, as a writer you can bring your laptop along with printed copies of your writing and any other relevant material to a café, a public library, or the student’s school.
Make It A Worthwhile Learning Experience For The Student
The student is there to learn about your career. She learns in part by observing you at work, and in part by asking you a number of questions. Make this a worthwhile experience by providing relevant, useful information. Use a balanced approach. Explain and show what your job duties are, how a typical workday is structured, and what skills you apply regularly. Talk about what you like and dislike about the job. Be encouraging but honest. Describe what education or training you needed to get into this career. Share which high school courses prepared you best for your job. Show what tools you use and, if applicable, what you produce. If you provide a service, demonstrate how you do so. If possible, introduce the student to coworkers and associates.
Be Available For Follow-up Questions
As part of the job shadowing experience, the student likely will interview you. Answer questions positively and honestly, in a manner the student can comprehend. Get to the point and avoid rambling. Check to see that the student has understood your responses; don’t be afraid to ask questions such as, “Do you need me to clarify that?” or “Would you like me to explain this further?” In addition, give the student your contact information and let him know you’re available for any follow-up questions. Additional questions may pop up after the job shadowing session is over. The student may need clarification on a point or two when he’s writing the report that needs to be turned in to the teacher.
By cheerfully agreeing to a student’s job shadow request, you’ll be helping a young person gather the information he or she needs to make a career choice. An afternoon of your time can make a world of difference in a student’s lifetime.
About The Author
Graciela Sholander is a professional writer who does ghostwriting and technical writing, among other types of writing, and got her start by freelancing for local parenting magazines. Feel free to visit her blog about ghostwriting.