How do I get a job shadow?

Abi Paravasthuramesh, News Editor

The job shadowing experience provides an opportunity to follow around a professional in action to get the feel of a specified profession. Students can job shadow as early as middle school and high school to observe various career possibilities. This first hand experience can not only provide a multidimensional view of what a specific career may entail, but also offers job and educational awareness as well as exposure to the workplace skills and interactions.

High school students in the community can delve into a multitude of career opportunities, varying in form from informational interviews to hands-on learning activities. The most common job shadows involve; medicine, engineering, police/fire, and business.

“I’ve set up job shadows for everything from a stable worker to a business owner. One of the nice things about our program is that we realize that we’re in a global market and so the job a student is interested in isn’t in our area so we’ve set-up job shadows in the other places in Iowa,” said Mary Johnson, Career Center Coordinator at Pleasant Valley High School.

PVHS students who want to try their chance at job shadowing can begin by approaching Johnson. On, the PVHS Career Center website, there are many resources regarding paperwork, applications, and additional information. Another initial way to approach job shadowing may be to try it out at a parent’s workplace. Shadowing somewhere at which the student may already be a patient at is another option.

“When you talk to family about their careers, sometimes that’s a bit biased. You can research a career but you don’t get the “feel” of a job and whether this job fits your personality and interests,” commented Johnson.

At Pleasant Valley High School, about 80% of students in Economics participate in the job shadowing program. Each year, about thirty seniors also partake in this experience. On average, forty PVHS students complete multiple job shadows a year. This year, counselors encouraged even sophomores to consider job shadowing.

While job shadows can be useful in that they can help inform of a student about whether a profession is really right for them, it can also direct a student towards making new connections regarding colleges, scholarships, etc.

“I once had a student who came into my office and told me this was the best thing that had ever happened to him. His host connected with [him] and inspired him to more than what he had thought he was capable of. He was given hope and that’s life changing for him,” expressed Johnson.

Even if a job shadow turns out different than what one expected, it is beneficial in that students can realize early on if it is something they are not interested in. This prior knowledge and early exposure can be a huge time and money-saver in later years of education.

“If I could share one thing it would be to be open-minded, try something you might not have thought about, go to the Lunch & Learns, tours and other opportunities we offer. Also if you are going to do a job shadow take it seriously. Dress-up, ask a ton of questions, and follow-up with a letter because you never know if you might make a connection that could help you in the future,” advised Johnson.