My previous blog “Let’s stop this madness of sending students to college right after high school.” had a lot of reaction to it. I feel I struck a nerve with many of my readers. I enjoyed reading and interacting with all the people who contacted me about it. Telling students not to go directly to college immediately after high school is a mindset change for many of us including myself. I see many students blindly walking into college not having a clue in order to figure out what they want to do. Add in unbelievably high costs of education and you end up paying extreme amounts of money to “figure out” your life and the return on your investment diminishes rapidly. There has to be a more economical way right? There is. My next few blogs are going to highlight ways you can gain experience and find out about careers and educate yourself before throwing down mass amounts of money you don’t have.
In order to look at authentic opportunities that a student can gain access to, I had to look into what a 12 to 18 year old person actually do. The old adage was “get a job.” In my opinion, we have kids who are 12 and 13 years old who are ready to learn more and work, it’s just they can’t legally do it. So how do we get students into more authentic experiences?
The first opportunity in this series is Job Shadowing.
What exactly is Job Shadowing? It is observing or “shadowing” someone doing their job. Timeframes for shadowing can last from a few hours to a week or more. The longer the shadowing opportunity, the more exposure the individual could get interacting with the boss, staff and seeing more procedures in any industry.
The benefits of job shadowing are numerous for both parties involved.
For the shadower, they get to actually see a possible career target they may be interested in. Seeing day to day operations can help the shadower make wiser decisions regarding their paths to that particular career. The shadower actually sees someone doing the job they are interested in. They get to see the spaces the job is being done in. While shadowing, one can pick up the workplace culture, norms and dynamics. The shadower can build their network by meeting people and talking with them. Finally the shadower can find out about the daily joys and struggles of that particular profession.
The employer can learn a lot from offering a job shadowing experience as well. The employers can learn from the shadower. This can lead to newer, innovative ways of doing things within your business. The employer is actually building their future employee network when they offer job shadowing. Finally, an employer who offers job shadowing can help out youth in their communities by teaching them about an industry in general.
So how do we implement this in the high school realm?
High Schools should have job shadowing intertwined into the schedule of students. Schools need to work with their community to fit job shadowing times and opportunities into daily, weekly, or quarterly times during the school year.
That work needs to be with local businesses, government, and professionals. Guidance counselors are constantly working with students to hear their interests and guide them accordingly. Interaction with community and counselors with students should be a priority in high school. Job shadowing can fill that void of students not knowing anything regarding a possible interest or profession before they graduate and go on to their next learning experience.
Let’s get job shadowing into the high school curriculum!