In the Spotlight: Job Shadow Day

Important Lessons from Unexpected Experiences

By Angela Dunnham '13, UVBEP Intern

What do you want to be when you grow up? On April 4, 2011, students from twelve Upper Valley schools took a hands-on approach to answering this question by participating in Job Shadow Day (JSD), an annual program coordinated by the Upper Valley Business and Education Partnership (UVBEP). In 2011, UVBEP successfully coordinated its largest JSD ever with over 700 students shadowing at more than 200 local businesses. Since 1999, UVBEP has helped 7,500 eighth grade students explore their passions and define their career goals by placing them in job sites that reflect their current interests.

Dartmouth College hosted students from several middle schools with a variety of interests including medicine, engineering, art and everything in between. To begin their day, students arrived bright and early at the Hanover Inn for breakfast and to plan out their day's activities. After, students dispersed with their hosts to individual departments. Students also ended their JSD experience at the Hanover Inn with lunch and a synthesis of their day.

As a UVBEP intern and Dartmouth student myself, I too was excited for the day. I began working on JSD tasks in December in its beginning stages by reviewing student interest surveys. Accordingly, I was excited to see the students actually at their sites and hear about what they learned. I first met with four students shadowing in Dartmouth Sports Medicine. I was impressed that students tailored their experiences to suit their interests. Two students were interested in sports and reported, "this is pretty much what I expected". Two other students were specifically interested in medicine and were equally involved.

My JSD tour led me next to the Human Resources and Public Affairs departments. Both had full schedules of age-appropriate and entertaining activities planned to expand studentsí understanding of day-to-day tasks. I met with students in HR as they were crafting a radio advertisement to promote their school. The students struggled to meet their deadline while still producing quality work. I then met with students in PR as they were taking a department snack break to discuss what they had learned so far in the office. A student in PR shared with me that she learned about the interdependence of the members in the department stating, "this office works like a clock". She said that everyone must complete their job independent of each other, but the office will not function efficiently if anyone fails to follow through. Students quickly grasped the importance of deadlines and collaboration.

The final stop on my JSD tour was the culminating lunch with all Dartmouth College JSD participants at the Hanover Inn. College coordinators ensured that students had a well-rounded learning experience by inviting three graduating Dartmouth Seniors to speak with the students about their day. Emily Broas explained to the group of students, "You can draw really important lessons from unexpected experiences." Edith Stewart and Thomas Brothers also shared insight they had gained from their previous work and academic experiences. Stewart captured the audience when she noted that students might each take away something different about their experiences, realizing that "yes this [career] is something I will pursue, or maybe itís a possibility, or no, I do not like this field. Nonetheless, this experience is worthwhile."

Read our other "In the Spotlight" articles!

back to top