Job Shadow

The Job Shadow Day Program at USL is designed to help our students learn more about career fields of interest by observing professionals in real-life work settings. Based on over a century of research, in societies with an abundance of career possibilities, theorists view young people moving through several phases of vocational development throughout their childhood, adolescent and young adult years. (Development Through the Lifespan, 3rd Edition, Dr. Laura Berk, 2005)

USL Students in Woods

Most young children begin their vocational development in a “fantasy period,” where they tend to express preferences in careers based on familiarity, glamour and excitement. As children approach the early and middle adolescent years, psychologists see them move into what is referred to as a “tentative period” of vocational development. Between the ages of 11-17, they become more aware of their individualized interests and with the help of educational awareness, they begin to consider their abilities and values as they think about their future careers.

It often isn’t until early adulthood when individuals truly begin to consider economic and practical realities which also greatly influence their chosen career paths. It has been shown that five major influences help an individual in developing their career path:

  • 1 Personality
  • 2 Family Influences
  • 3 Teachers
  • 4 Gender Stereotyping
  • 5 Access to Vocational Information

USL’s faculty work actively with students to help them become more aware of their strengths, skills and passions. In addition, throughout our school curriculum, students are exposed at a young age to the realities of our economic world and practicalities.

Our Job Shadow Day Program ensures that students have an opportunity to explore varying career choices and experience some of them first hand through observation of real-life work settings. Each student also gets to learn about a wide range of career fields through our job shadow day reflection circles, where each student has an opportunity to share about their varying job shadow day experiences.

Job Shadow Day Process

The Job Shadow Day Program at USL is made possible by a variety of people and a process that we follow to ensure a valuable vocational learning opportunity for all of our students. Below is an outline of how the Job Shadow Day process works, to help parents and students understand the steps that go into each student’s job shadow day experience.

1) The Job Shadow Day Coordinator interviews each student individually to help them determine which career fields match their current interests and skills, and they seek to learn more about professions and job trends.

2) Based on the student interview and research, the Job Shadow Day Coordinator helps each student pin down up to three career interests and the Coordinator then works towards finding a Job Shadow Day host in one of these chosen career fields. The Job Shadow Day Coordinator maintains a database of job shadow day hosts through the USL community When a chosen career field differs from the hosts’ professions in our database, the Coordinator works closely with our USL Sunshine Committee to reach out to family and friends of our USL Community, in an attempt to find someone in the targeted career field.

3) Once a potential host is found, the Coordinator speaks to the family about this possibility to see if it is a good fit. Once a host is determined to be a good fit, the Coordinator then follows the host’s lead in setting up a date and time frame for the Job Shadow Day.

Job Shadow Days are made possible due to the many kind professionals in our USL community who volunteer to offer their time to host our students and our dedicated parents who arrange transportation for their child. The Job Shadow Day Coordinator will do their best to set these dates up with advanced notice for planning purposes, but when there is a rare last minute shadow day opportunity for which a parent is unable to provide transportation or supervision, USL will do their best to arrange transportation and/or supervision by the Coordinator or another faculty member at USL, otherwise they will reschedule the JSD.

Given the varying settings of these learning opportunities and the young age of our students, often it is impossible to have a student job shadow without parent supervision. We are committed to offering our students an individualized job shadow opportunity while providing appropriate adult supervision for our students at all times. Sometimes this means having a parent right around the corner while allowing the student to take the lead in the learning experience.

We strive to have each student do one Job Shadow Day per school year, although sometimes a shadow day will take place in the summer time. They take place on any day depending on the host and family availability. The time frames range from a few hours to a full day.

4) On the Job Shadow Day, there are some guidelines to remember for the experience:

Students will dress for a formal LOTC day (white USL collared-shirt and khaki bottoms). If the occupation entails a different level of dress, then the student should dress as asked by the host. As with a regular LOTC, students should SLANT, ask questions, and engage the people they encounter. If allowed, bring a camera and take pictures.

5) After their Job Shadow Day experience, each student will have an opportunity to share their experiences with the other students and faculty at USL during a reflection circle. We encourage students to utilize visual aids, photos, technology tools and Q and A while they share to ensure that their presentation helps the other students fully understand the profession being discussed. This sharing exercise often inspires other students to consider new careers for their future shadow opportunities.

Students are also asked to share their experiences through a written reflection, to be turned into the Job Shadow Day Coordinator within three weeks of their JSD. This helps each student get the most out of their experience and they may receive extra credit in their writing class for this assignment as well.

The students take great pride in their Job Shadow Days and the new knowledge that they take away from their experience is always valuable. The hosts are often rewarded by the experience as well and we always make sure to have each student send a handwritten thank-you card and USL magnet to each host, provided to them by the Job Shadow Day Coordinator. You will each hear from the Job Shadow Day Coordinator when it is your child’s turn to job shadow at USL. In the meantime, feel free to contact Tiffany Thompson, our Job Shadow Day Coordinator, with any questions you may have.