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  • Job Shadowing: Orientation a Key for Maximizing Results

    September 28, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Best Practices
    A woman shadows her supervisor to get quickly oriented in her new job.

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    The DePaul University Career Center launched a job shadow program in 2014 to provide its students with a glimpse into the professional world and give employers an additional way to connect with students.

    DePaul’s Professional Exploration Program (PEP) is manageable: It’s only available to students in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the College of Science and Health.

    “We wanted to show that within those majors, there are many different paths these graduates can take,” says Carrie McAteer, associate director of employer and internship development in the DePaul University Career Center. “The program introduces students to a professional work culture and career opportunities that relate to their interests and skills.”

    The job shadowing is a one-day assignment, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The DePaul Career Center selects six dates on which students and employers can conduct their job shadowing. All of the dates occur during the December break, when there are no classes or exams.

    Employers are encouraged to expose students to the various aspects of their businesses.

    “We want our students to sit in on staff meetings and have informational interviews with people throughout these organizations, from CEOs to department managers if possible,” McAteer says.

    Launched in 2014, 19 students and 11 employers participated that first year. The program grew last year, when 44 students and 24 employers took part.

    At the end of the program, participants are surveyed to assess their satisfaction. Both years, all participating employers said they would participate again. Likewise, all participating students said they would recommend the program to a friend.

    McAteer offered the following suggestions for developing a successful job shadow program:

    • If you are starting from scratch, solicit help—Benchmark with and reach out to schools that have good job shadow programs. They might be willing to share information and resources.
    • Stay on track and meet deadlines—Be specific about when applications are to be submitted, when you are going to review applications, and more.
    • Assign roles—Divide the responsibilities amongst staff. For example, some staff members might be very good at employer relations, while others might be better with data and tracking.
    • Educate students—Have a mandatory orientation for students participating in the program. It’s extremely important that when students arrive in their employers’ lobbies, they are ready to go. Talk to them about maximizing this experience.
    • Give students reminders—Students need several reminders about dates, times, dress codes, and professional conduct. Also, give them your contact information so that there’s no excuse for not getting the logistics right.
    • Target employers that interest students—Balance employers from a variety of industries to get the most students possible interested. Sources of employers to consider are internship programs, alumni, colleague recommendations, and employer advisory boards.
    • Ask students to document their day—You can use what students produce to post on social media and in marketing materials to attract new students and employers to your job shadow program. You have to ask employers for permission, and have students sign photo releases at orientation.
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