Job Shadow Program lets engineering students sample career options

Posted: April 19, 2018

When Engineering Career Services launched the Job Shadow Program in 2007, its main goal was to help Ohio State students network with potential employers and experience what it’s like to be an engineer.

A group of students stand in from of a jet engine with four of them in O-H-I-O formation.
15 Buckeye Engineering students visited GE Aviation spring semester as part of the Job Shadow Program.

While the program’s purpose has remained steadfast, its size has not. What began with nine employer participants and 23 students in 2007 has grown exponentially to 76 employer participants and 415 students in 2017, with those numbers expected to increase even more in 2018.

In order to accommodate the growing number of interested students, this year experiences are being offered on Fridays in addition to the week of spring break.

“We did that to offer more flexibility for students,” said Kaitlin Schafer, an ECS career counselor who helps coordinate the program. “Sometimes students have big spring break plans so they can’t participate. Sometimes they just have too much homework and things going on.”

While the agenda at a job shadow experience varies slightly from company to company, most include an introduction to the company from upper management or human resources representatives, followed by quick tour of the facility. After this, students split off individually or in groups to shadow an employee in the same field of study.

The program is a great resource for students and is incredibly beneficial for companies who are looking to hire top engineering students as interns or even full-time staff members.

“I think it’s a great networking opportunity for the student and opportunity for our company to get our name out there,” said Lindsay Daniels, a representative for Worthington Industries. “It was a good opportunity for us to communicate who we are as a company, understand what we value as a company and what engineering means at our company.”

Eva Rezek, a fourth-year chemical engineering major, is one student who took advantage of the Job Shadow Program’s increased offering this year, and even received a full-time offer from the company she visited.

Rezek, who wasn’t able to participate in the past because she was always busy during the week of spring break, shadowed at Lincoln Electric in October. She said the experience was beneficial because she was able to get to know the company before applying for a position there.

“Having this experience and seeing the company multiple times was really helpful when actually choosing where I wanted to work after graduation,” Rezek said.

A highlight of her Lincoln Electric experience was a virtual reality set-up that mimicked welding, something Rezek said was only a part of the hands-on work she was able to do during her visit.

“It was really worth taking the time to go out to the company and see what they do in person. It’s always going to be a different experience when you’re doing hands-on stuff there instead of reading about it over the internet,” she said.

Overall, the program gives students a sense of a day-in-the-life of an engineer and what job they might want after graduation, Schafer said.

“Sometimes students realize, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do this’ after going to a job shadow,” Schafer explained. “Then there’s some students that say, ‘Wow, I never knew I could do this as an engineer until I participated in this program.’ It’s really eye-opening for engineering students.”

by Zach Konno, College of Engineering student communications assistant

Category: Students