Significance of shadowing: How to improve McNick’s career shadowing program

At the end of their sophomore year, every McNick student receives a packet about career shadowing. Career shadowing is a junior year requirement in which every student must spend at least four hours shadowing a career of interest. While the program allows students to examine their interests and see the “real world,” some students aren’t truly making good use of the opportunity. This is an amazing chance to sample a job before students have to commit to a major, and it would be a huge mistake to waste the opportunity by half-heartedly going through the process or not even attempting it.

 “Career shadowing forces students to learn more about a career and helps them decide if they really have an interest in it or not. Either way, there’s value in the experience,” guidance counselor Nancy Aniskovich said. “If students choose to only do a phone interview or make up the information, then they aren’t getting the benefit of this opportunity.”

While McNick has created a great program, there are some changes that might encourage students to fully participate. McNick should continue to give the students the packets at the end of sophomore year, but embed the information more in the students’ minds by holding a brief assembly or counselor meeting about the process. By the end of the year, students aren’t very likely to remember a random packet they receive.

Another  problem is that there aren’t any school days off dedicated to shadowing. Like college visits, shadowing is best done during the school year. While summer provides more  free time for students, most careers aren’t as active or interesting as they are during the rest of the year. While it’s important for students to be in school, a given day designated for shadowing would encourage students and their parents to take the opportunity seriously.   

Career shadowing gives students the chance to see what really goes into a specific career and it would be a shame for even one student not to take advantage of this opportunity. By making these changes, McNick could revive participation and make sure students are getting the full experience of shadowing.

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