You and your shadow

Published 2:31 am Sunday, January 27, 2008

By Staff
Want to help young people find a career? Want to take part in a program that may provide your company, business, industry or school with a hard-working, responsible employee in the future?
The Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce’s Job Shadow Day on Feb. 26 could be the answer to those questions and more.
The program allows up to 50 eligible 10th-graders to observe firsthand how what they learn in school relates to the workplace. The program’s objective is to help young people investigate the education and skills needed to be successful in the job market, according to a chamber newsletter.
Students are selected for the program based on essays they submit.
Classroom knowledge is important, but having an opportunity to work side by side and face to face with employers and employees provides the selected students with some experiences that offer education and skills they cannot learn in a classroom. Job shadowing allows a community’s employers to give back something positive back to the community — helping prepare young people for the “real world.”
That statement alone is sufficient reason for the community to support the chamber’s Job Shadow Day.
Many employees will tell anyone who asks that on-the-job training is among the best training there is, no matter how much or how little other training they have received. Job Shadow Day, if properly planned and carried out, provides a taste of a job that will help a student determine if a career he or she has chosen is the right one for him or her.
To make Job Shadow Day work, mentors are needed for participating students. Local employers and employees should sign up to be mentors. Not only will they be serving their community, they’ll probably have fun doing it. An encouraging word from a mentor could result in a student choosing a career path that leads to a Nobel Peace Prize, a cure for cancer or an Emmy.
During past Job Shadow Days, some students witnessed medical and dental procedures, went to court, visited a jail and worked around fire-fighting equipment. Others observed teachers in classrooms, worked with children with special needs and gave a televised weather report.
Lee Hemink, former executive director of the chamber, had this to say about Job Shadow Day when he discussed it last year: “In my opinion, Job Shadow Day is the most powerful program we produce annually, if you look at the potential and opportunity it provides our young people. When you hear a student exclaim, ‘Now, I really know I want to be a vet’ after being a part of a hip surgery procedure on a dog, you know this program is on the right track.”
First-time mentors in the chamber’s Job Shadow Day have been impressed with the program.
In 2005, District Attorney Seth Edwards took four students to Martin County to observe proceedings in District Court and Superior Court.
And Edwards got a taste of the Job Shadow Day program.
Beaufort County Manager Paul Spruill also experienced his first Job Shadow Day as a mentor that year. He described the program as “very well organized.”
The number of students taking part in Job Shadow Day over the years indicates it’s a program that’s effective. An ineffective program wouldn’t attract many students; they’ve got better things to do.
A World of Opportunity in a Day of Work is the theme for the national Job Shadow program.
Job Shadow Day is an important key to that world of opportunity for students. Serving as a mentor for those students will provide opportunities and experiences for the person doing the shadowing.
On Feb. 26, perhaps there will be a myriad of mentors humming “Me and My Shadow” during the day.