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Get exposure to different professional fields as a high school student. Photo: Getty

Job shadowing has never been more important for Pennsylvania students

Job shadowing provides work-based experience to students in diverse professional settings and insights into whether or not that career path is right for them.

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Colleges and Universities are offering summer programs for high school-aged students to gain invaluable insights into various fields, with some offering financial assistance like in the case of the University of Pennsylvania. 

However, if financial assistance is not available, what’s next? No need to stress—enhance and gain new skill sets by volunteering and job shadowing to improve communication skills, time management, and decision-making capacity. Job shadowing takes a step further— providing a short-term work-based experience that provides students the opportunity to observe a professional on the job. This allows students to get insights into the profession(s) of interest and determine which career path to pursue.

Job shadowing can also be ideal for students with diverse interests and career inclinations or simply those who are undecided about which career path to pursue and whether or not they can see themselves in that profession.

Some responsibilities of the student

  • The student is usually expected to observe the daily activities of the professional at the work site, who can become a mentor during the process. 
  • Conduct in a responsible and professional manner
  • Follow all safety and security policies of the worksite
  • Ask questions during the experience

Some of the benefits of job shadowing are: learning about different jobs, networking with professionals and establishing a rapport, and real-life experience and introduction to the workforce. This time can help you learn about the types of work environments less suited for you and those you are more likely to thrive in. 

If you are considering job shadowing, your school will be a great resource as they can guide you through the placement and selection process. Also, you can take the initiative and contact places of interest and see if they offer job shadowing opportunities or volunteering opportunities that can allow you access to the field of interest—local organizations and hospitals are great places for volunteering. 

Tips for Job Shadowing

Before you start your job shadowing, take the time to research the company and learn what others who have volunteered or shadowed there before have said—be prepared to discuss why you are interested in shadowing and your career goals. 

During your job shadow it is important to remember first impression matters—dress appropriately, bring something to write with, a pen and notepad, silence your phone, don’t hesitate to ask questions, and when possible ask for their business cards (this will be a great form of networking). 

After job shadowing, take the time to write a thank you email to the people you shadowed. Also, express how the newly acquired experience will aid your career path and keep that line of communication open.  

Summer Programs for High School students

Colleges and Universities offer summer programs to help high school-aged students learn about different fields of interest. Also, provides students with an enriched experience and new skillset. 

Gwynedd Mercy University programs (June 26th to June 30th)

  • Future Teachers Summer Program
  • Get Psyched Summer Program
  • Healthcare Hero Summer Program
  • Integrated Studies Pre-College Summer Institute 
  • Turning Your Love of Sports into a career Summer Program
  • True Crime: How to Solve a Murder Summer Program 

The University of Pennsylvania 

Penn has partnered with Summer Discovery to provide high school students with summer programming—financial aid may be available for select Philadelphia students. 

  • Social Justice Research Academy 
  • Biomedical Research Academy 
  • Chemistry Research Academy 
  • Mathematics Academy 
  • Neuroscience Research Academy
  • Penn Prep
  • Global Culture and Communication Academy
  • 6 Week College Credit
  • Penn Law Pre-College Academy

For a comprehensive list click here

Other programs:

The University of the Arts: Summer Institute (July 10-July 28, 2023)

  • Summer Institute Art, Media & Design 
  • Summer Institute Creative Writing 
  • Summer Institute Dance
  • Summer Institute Filmmaking 

West Chester University 

  • iCAMP Academy 
  • Young Writers Camp 
  • High School Summer Music Institute
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