Fall of 2022 was an exciting semester for Career Development and Experiential Learning. For the first time ever, the program ran both virtual and in-person job shadow opportunities, making for its most flexible and accessible Job Shadow Experience yet.
Job shadowing is when a student meets with a host professional to learn more about their career, sector, and employer. Pre-pandemic, this was done in person. The students would get to go to the professional’s place of work and observe them in action. During the pandemic, this was all done virtually. Students would meet online with the host, have a question-and-answer session, and engage in an additional learning opportunity, such as sitting in on an online meeting or having a virtual tour of their office.
This year, the program offered both in-person and virtual options, allowing for in-person and online learning and observation with more diverse hosts. Providing options made the program more accessible to students who may want to meet with hosts located in another province, country, or not on a public bus route.
In a follow-up survey of student participants, exactly half reported having an in-person experience, and half had a virtual experience. The feedback from both modes of experience was overwhelmingly positive
Of the hosts that registered, approximately 27 per cent were outside of the Windsor-Essex region, with locations ranging from across Ontario to Michigan, to British Columbia. Some hosts mentioned in their feedback that the virtual aspect made it possible for them to participate.
Other hosts welcomed the in-person option.
Bill Wood, maintenance manager at Peak Processing, said, “In the manufacturing industry, there are so many opportunities that need real life in-person shadowing to understand the manufacturing culture that many students cannot grasp until they see it first-hand”.
Sefat Uddin Samee, an undergraduate mechanical engineering student, was matched with Woods.
“For those who have not had any prior exposure to their vocational field, the Job Shadow Experience is a once-in-a blue moon opportunity to see first-hand the area you want to grow your career in,” Sefat said. “Nothing is more valuable than hands-on information and you get that in abundance through this experience. I would definitely recommend this to all students.”
Heather Sweet, a lecturer in the Faculty of Nursing, explained why she hosts students for a Job Shadow Experience.
“Being a job shadow host is a rewarding and inspiring experience. Being able to share in the excitement a student has about their future profession is a true privilege. Throughout the shadow experience, the student gains first-hand knowledge and experience of your role, responsibilities and many behind the scenes tasks that are involved with your position. It is a great way to pass the torch to the next generation and give students a true appreciation for what a career in your field would be like. I have taken part in this program for the past three years and would highly recommend it!”
Dana Sleiman, a nursing student who was matched with Sweet, appreciated the experience.
“This experience allowed me to see the behind- the- scenes aspect of being a professor which was helpful in clarifying what my options are after graduation. I enjoyed my time completing interactive activities and discussing the nursing field with my host.”
Because of the success of the flexibility allowed by the hybrid option, experiential learning will offer this kind of choice again in the future. Its staff reports being excited to see how it will play out next semester.