Job shadow offers learning experience

“Ever since I was young, people told me I am good at math. I don’t love math, but they said, ‘You’re good at math,’” sophomore Rachel Brokenshire said. “I really like art, and I am a really artsy person, so people were like, ‘Look into architecture,’” Brokenshire said. Her talents in art and mathematics spilled over into her interests, as Brokenshire would regularly comment on the designs of houses. “I do really like looking at houses. Even when we run I will be like, ‘Oh look at that cute house. I love their windows,” Brokenshire said.

At the beginning of each semester, job shadow opportunities are posted on Schoology.   Brokenshire heard about the job shadows and was immediately interested. The process of a job shadow entails signing up through Schoology to let the counselors know one is interested. One of the school counselors will then connect students to a professional who works at a career the student is interested in. Although Brokenshire has a heavy interest in art and is skilled in mathematics, the stigma of the math complexity surrounding architecture scared the sophomore away from the field. Instead, Brokenshire, who has taken many engineering classes, pursued civil engineering. “I tried civil engineering thinking maybe if I liked it I wouldn’t have to do architecture,” she said.

Brokenshire, after learning about what engineering involves, decided that engineering wasn’t the right path for her. “I learned that there wasn’t enough creativity in engineering. It’s not something I want my career in,” Brokenshire said.

Although this specific job shadow didn’t turn out to be a passion for Brokenshire, she still saw the value in eliminating a field that isn’t a good fit for her. Brokenshire suggested that students interested in a job shadow sign up, even if they are not sure about the exact career.

“Don’t feel like you have to do a job shadow for a job that you are going to go into a job for. The whole purpose of a job shadow is to see, would you do this job?” Brokenshire said.

Sophomore Devin O’Loughlin, who job shadowed a surgeon at Allen hospital suggested students should sign up for a job shadow despite whether they’re fully committed to a specific career or not. “I would recommend anyone who is looking to go into a career that they look for a job shadow that interests them. Even if it is something that they’re not so sure about. It doesn’t hurt to just sign up,” she said.

O’Loughlin, who was initially intimidated by the RN and surgeon, found that the professionals she met with wanted her to learn as much as she could and not be afraid.“The people that I was working with, the RN and the surgeon, were both very nice. They answered any questions I had and explained things out to me,” she said. “I was afraid they would be almost annoyed by me, but they definitely weren’t, they were super friendly. They just made me feel very welcome. They wanted me to learn.”

After engaging in one job shadow and not receiving the results she desired, Brokenshire did not give up. She utilized the fall job shadow opportunity provided by the high school and requested a job shadow with an architect she had met during one her classes. Brokenshire’s experience at the second job shadow was a complete 360 from her first one. She found a career that excited her and utilized all of her talents.

For her job shadow, Brokenshire traveled to Invison, an architecture firm in downtown Waterloo. She was introduced to all the different positions in the field, including modeling, interior design, computer programming and planning. Brokenshire enjoyed that she got to see the different parts of the jobs and where she could possibly fit if she pursued the career.

“It was very cool to be there and experience that maybe this is something hard, but I really had a lot of fun. It was really enjoyable, and I felt like I could stay there forever. It was also really cool to see people’s different passions,” Brokenshire said.

During her visit, Brokenshire spoke to a young female who graduated from Iowa State with a degree in architecture. Brokenshire, who had interest in the college, was able to hear from someone who knew more than her about the architecture program and the benefits of Iowa State.

“You hear so much, but when you get to talk to someone who actually went through it, it  helps,” she said. “I got to ask really specifically like, ‘Is there any reason not to go to Iowa State if you’re going into architecture?” Brokenshire said.

She found the answer to be, no, considering in-state tuition and it’s credibility, which is needed if one wants a future in architecture.

Job shadows also give students the opportunity to view the work environment of a particular job. Being exposed to this factor can help one decide whether or not they want to pursue a specific career.

“The work environment, you don’t really think about it, but getting to see their desks was interesting. They laid it out so you have your own desk, but you’re still open to the next person. It was independent, but you could still ask someone a question,” said Brokenshire, for whom being able to communicate with others is a very important factor.

O’ Loughlin also benefited from witnessing different environments relating to potential careers. “It definitely made me heavily consider a career path involves working in a hospital. From that job shadow, I found that I really like that environment,” she said.

Seeing one’s career in action can help students see themselves actually pursuing a career in that field one day, and this gives students a goal to work toward. “It was really cool to see different parts of myself translate to a job. It really gives you purpose in school. ‘OK, I really need to get my math classes done so I can get the actual job,’” Brokenshire said about her job shadow experience at the architecture firm.

After completing her two job shadows, Brokenshire is not locked to one career path. She still plans on signing up for many more and learning new things about herself and passions. “I’m not like, “Now I want to be an architect. That’s exactly what I want to do,” but it gave me guidance for what to plan in high school,” Brokenshire said.

It’s too late to sign up for a job shadow this year, but the 2018-2019 school year will offer more opportunities for student growth. Counselors will keep students updated on opportunities through messages on Schoology.

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