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Job Shadow Program provides opportunity to get a taste of industry

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Alex McIntyre and Alex McIntyre | The Daily Wildcat Kelly Maroney, a systems engineering major and senior engagement ambassador works at the front desk of the Office of Student Engagement in the Student Union Memorial Center on Thursday, Feb. 18. The new office had its grand opening last week and hopes to work toward fulfilling the 100 percent engagement initiative.

For students looking to test the waters of an industry before diving in after graduation, the University of Arizona Student Engagement & Career Development hosts a Job Shadow Program where students can apply to visit an organization or industry of their choosing for a day. Students can sit in on meetings, get a tour of the facility and get hands-on experience.

The program first began in the spring of 2018 and is lead by Sara Nixon-Kirschner, the industry program manager at UA. 

"[The program] brings together U of A alumni and U of A-connected employers as well as other professional hosts to offer one-day job shadows," Nixon-Kirschner said. 

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According to Nixon-Kirschner, students can now apply for job shadowing opportunities during spring break, winter break and the first two weeks of summer break.

The next opportunity takes place during spring break from March 4 through March 8. The applications close on Feb. 10.

"I think it's an incredible opportunity to build your resume and increase your experience with a career in the real world without having to win an exclusive internship," Nixon-Kirschner said.

Students can apply directly through Handshake  and can search through UA-approved shadowing positions. Students of every major and grade are able to apply to any available business they would like, whether it is related to their major or not.

"We offer it so many times and we offer such a variety that there really is something for everybody, and it doesn't have to connect to your major, it doesn't have to connect to your college. It's about your interests and what you want to explore," Nixon-Kirschner said.

Samantha Grim is a junior at UA majoring in political science and minoring in economics. She participated in the job shadowing program over winter break in 2018. Grim got to shadow at Charles Schwab, a brokerage firm in Scottsdale. 

"I got to participate in a ghost call and network with some of the hiring managers. We got tours of the campus, because it's actually quite big. We did kind of a lot," Grim said. "It was very scheduled."

Grim also shared that there were panels and a Q&A. Participants played "Jeopardy!" and were provided lunch. 

Just two weeks before her job shadow, Grim also applied for an internship at Charles Schwab in a different department. She said she realized that being able to go and meet the people there would help pass her name along, and she now has an internship there for the upcoming summer.

Monica Pataki, a masters student in public policy, also attended a job shadowing over the 2018 winter break. She shadowed in Phoenix at the Public Works Department under Brenda Yanez, a UA alumna.

"It was a full day. I started at eight o'clock ... The highlight for me was to actually visit one of the recycling facilities and see it in action and then learn about how the City of Phoenix promotes it to their residents," Pataki said. 

Pataki stated that by the end of the day, they had her working on a press release for a program they were coming out with. 

Pataki was introduced to the job shadowing program through Diane Darling, the graduate programs manager for the School of Government and Public Policy. Pataki said Darling had heard about it through the UA and encouraged graduate students to apply. Typically, the program is only offered to undergraduate students, but at that time not enough had applied, so they opened the program to graduate students as well.

"Truthfully, undergraduates should be doing these ... But I was happy to step in," Pataki said.

After Pataki was accepted for the job shadowing, UA held an orientation meeting where they covered work etiquette, dress code and other expectations for all of the students who would shadow.

"I thought that was a really nice touch, that they don't just send you out thinking that you can handle it all ... It was great just to have a brush-up," Pataki said.

Nixon-Kirschner said most of the job shadows are offered in Tucson and Phoenix, but they also offer some around the country in cites such as Seattle, Dallas and San Francisco. 

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The Job Shadow Program works with the UA Alumni Association to publicize the opportunity, and alumni will contact them about wanting to host a shadow. The program also has existing relationships with people or companies that have worked with UA before, to whom they will reach. According to Nixon-Kirschner, they will also reach out to a company or a person that a student has expressed interest in to see if they can set a shadowing opportunity up.

"It's one day, but I do think it can give you a perspective of what you want to do or what you don't want to do," Grim said. 

Applications for spring break shadowing opportunities are open until Feb. 10 and can be found on the program's website, along with other information about the program. Applications for the summer break shadowing will open on March 18. 


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