Job Shadowing for Students and Why it Works

Job Shadowing is the act of observing, interacting, learning and working in the environment of a certain workplace under a Mentor. Shadowing helps students to understand the relationship between what they are learning in class and how that is being applied in the work fields that they have chosen.

A problem stems from the fact that High School and to a larger extent College is seen by students as a place where they have to spend a lot of unnecessary time. They fail to make the connection between their education and how it will be useful in their work life. While High School and/or College is necessary for educational purposes, students still feel in the dark when they enter the “real world” Even after years of education they feel unequipped with the proper skills to handle their jobs.
Thus to counteract this, many universities/colleges around the world have implemented and have been doing do for years a system where they allow students to participate in job shadowing programs. These programs have selected students to work under professionals for a period of time and learn everything there is to learn about their field. Then they return to their respective schools and use that knowledge to pick up skills and courses that will enable them to perform better in their field.


The Data is There
Job Shadowing is universally accepted as a successful endeavor by academics and students alike. A student who has shadowed a mentor has a higher chance of success in their professional life than those who have not. A survey by the esteemed Junior Achievement Job Shadow Initiative found the following:
• A 90 percent majority of students participating in job shadowing programs agreed that they felt more aware of the opportunities that they have for their careers.
• 88 percent realized the importance of gaining and education by staying in school.
Another study conducted by Junior Achievement, this time geared towards teachers asked if they felt a difference in students who had received professional mentoring. They responded as such:
• 92 percent of the teachers noticed an increased motivation in school after job shadowing
• 79 percent thought job shadowing programs under mentors reduced dropouts.
• Interest in careers and further education was increased, as agreed by 85 of teachers.
A breakthrough study commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation called The Silent Epidemic shone a light on why many children drop out of High School. A staggering 47% percent answered that it was just too boring for them to attend. Another majority answered that teachers were just not motivated and teachers “only care about getting through their day too” 81% of the students expressed that there should be a connection between what they are learning in class and how it will be applied in real life.

The Pros
Students can cut right to the chase with job shadowing programs. All the fluff associated with school learning is essentially cut out and students get a real-life hands-on experience. This experience is purely a skills-based program curated by mentors who have spent years in the field. They will pass this knowledge off to the students. They will realize how to dress professionally, the importance of punctuality, how to solve complex problems and how they can work with other members of their team, how their education might relate to everyday problems in the office.
“A lot of the kids shadowed STEM-specific jobs . . . our vision for involving our local businesses in our schools is happening. We need this partnering to continue.” —Tom Vermillion, chair of the Lenoir County (N.C.) STEM Initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
Establishing that connection between work and school is the primary if not the underlying objective of many jobs shadowing programs- putting in things in perspective for the students essentially.
“This was a good way of helping us have a more focused mind and envision all the career possibilities out there. I liked the first-hand experience of interacting with real workers who were so helpful.” —Student about an AT&T/JA job shadow experience
Students often feel lost and unmotivated since their studies do not feel useless to them. These skills-based job shadowing programs, thus are of utmost importance.

The Cons
Although job shadowing under mentors sees exponentially more success than failure, there are a number of drawbacks associated with job shadowing that can hinder some student’s performance. A student should carefully analyze these drawbacks and turn them into strengths.
Unfortunately, job-shadowing is not counted as job experience. No matter how long you might spend under a mentor, on your resume it will not count. A future employer may look at ‘job-shadowing’ as nothing more than a glorified unpaid internship.
Workdays are extremely variable in the amount of work that can happen in one day. There are days where the clock will move ever so slowly and days where you will hardly notice the day going by. Shadowing on such days becomes difficult because there is either nothing to shadow or too much to shadow.
During the actual shadowing, you might not get the chance to ask questions or maybe at all- depending on the mentor’s schedule. It might take days for you to get a chance to ask your mentor why they acted a certain way or performed a task.

Learning Spout- Working Together to Help You
Learning Spout provides students the opportunity they need to get in contact with professionals in their respective fields. It does not matter what field you belong to; Learning Spout will find the most qualified and highly experienced expert to help guide students. But not only that, Learning Spout specializes in coordinating student requests and motivations into strict action plans with the help of the experts. Whatever objectives the students have in mind, Learning Spout implements into the plan and helps the student to achieve them. Learning Spout not only helps students with job shadowing opportunities but is also a hub of extra-curricular activities for students to participate in and boost their resume.

You Cannot Do It Alone
Students, either because of pride of some misplaced sense of self-importance feel as if though they can complete whatever challenge ahead of them on their own. What they fail to realize is that the need for help is most abundant in students. Whether it may be from friends, parents, teachers or mentors. School life is a journey that cannot be walked alone. You need the help of everyone you can get. Many students perhaps for this reason or another do not join societies, do not engage with teachers or administration. They feel as if they can take on the world by themselves. This is misguided. No one can do it alone.

Contact Lynette for your shadowing opportunity and a personalized development plan at

    • lynettesiew
      lynettesiew • Post Author •
      September 25, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Thank you very much! Are you looking into job shadowing as well?

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