Each year we have one or more high school students and occasionally college students join us in the office for a job shadow opportunity. This is an unpaid position where the students gets to hang out in the office, observe what we are doing, and work on a design of a house (I serve as your client). This allows them to experience life in an architectural firm. If there is an opportunity they get to visit a job site, hear our conversation with clients, see our work, and get a hands-on feel for what we really do. This year Daniel Yavny joined us for part of June. Yavny is a graduate of Massanutten Technical Center with a strong interest in design. He has previously job shadowed at Valley Engineering before coming to our firm.
From Daniel Yavny:
Job shadowing can be a very useful way to learn about a particular career of interest. It is on-the-job learning, career development, and leadership development. For me job shadowing meant to shadow and interact with an experienced professional in a certain career field. Gaines Group Architect allowed me to come into their office for a month and spend a couple hours a day shadowing and working with them. The time I spent with this firm allowed me to experience architecture through a different perspective.
The first thing this experience has taught me is the assignment of an architect. An architect is not just a trained professional who draws floor plans. An architect is an individual with methodology and taste in design. An architect is a person who looks outside the box to meet the requirements of their client, who then analyzes those requirements and attempts to design it in a way that impresses the client. An architect will strive to create something beautiful and majestic.
Job shadowing has showed me what architecture is all about and that is what I am most grateful for with this experience. You can be aware of something through observation or be familiar with it but you will never experience/appreciate what it feels like to undertake a certain task until you actually do it yourself. And that is the whole purpose of job shadowing. That is why I believe it is important for every high school student to job shadow. You can think to yourself that you want to become an accountant after school but you will never know until you try.
Another very important aspect of Job shadowing is that it gives you new contacts. You will meet professional people in the workforce. You will make friends that will somehow benefit you in the future. For example, I became friends with Gil Colman, a professional civil engineer. I learned so much from him in the couple hours that I spent with him. We even talked about a possible job interview in the future. That’s right, internships can even open career opportunities.
It is very important to job shadow before you even finish school. Job shadowing can be useful in a number of ways. By providing a snapshot of a day in the life of an experienced professional, it can help you decide whether or not you think you would enjoy and feel passionate about the job. It also can help you decide if your skills match the career field of interest and how your skills from school and other jobs might translate to this job.