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Job shadowing gives students chance to try out careers

by on 07/10/2014

In a recent letter to a local advice column “Weight of the World” bemoaned the fact that he/she had pursued two occupational programs only to drop out when it seemed they were “not quite right for me.” Now he/she is trying to pay back student loans on a non-skilled income.

How will you know __________________ is THE ONE? When your son or daughter declares their undying love for a certain occupation and wants to enroll in a college program ask them what draws them to this field? Is it the money? Opportunity for travel? Work with people? His best friend is doing it too?

Many young people have limited views of what is involved in various career fields. Ask them to do some research. Have they watched YouTube for videos on that occupation? What do they know about the day-to-day world of designing video games or taking care of sick pets? Have they ever met anyone who has their dream job?

Mike Rowe, television host and advocate for blue-collar careers says, “The trick is to make sure by the time the kid gets to this point, where he or she is seriously trying to figure out the best path, that they can look at the most options, that they’ve had time to try them on somehow.”

You can help your child try out different careers by arranging for them to “shadow” someone.

How to set up a job shadow experience:

  • Identify a few areas of interest with your child. What careers are related to those interests?
  • Start with your child’s school. Some Wisconsin school districts like the School District of Marshfield have formal job shadow programs.
  • Ask your friends or business contacts if they are willing to arrange a job shadow for your student.
  • Contact companies directly. Some companies have formal programs to introduce students to their industry and specific positions. Others may be willing to arrange a one-on-one experience.
  • Professional organizations and career-specific organizations have job shadow programs to give students opportunities to explore certain fields. For example the Associated Contractors of Wisconsin has a job shadow program.



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