By Judi Saxon, Director of Student Services, Brett Robinson Gulf Corporation
While the Brett Robinson Gulf Corporation Student Services Department was already offering our Summer Work Travel participants the opportunity to be immersed in our culture - to experience our food, participate in community activities, and become familiar with work and home life, we felt there was always one important factor missing. One that would impact the very future of these young people as they mature and contribute to their communities in their country of origin or elsewhere.
We were convinced that these bright young people, with so much potential, deserved to become familiar with the work life of professionals in America who work in the student’s field of study. Participants could learn, first hand, how physicians, architects, marketing professionals, attorneys, teachers, veterinarians and numerous other professionals in America conduct their day’s business. What resources do they depend upon? What are some tips for success? From this desire arose our idea of a Job Shadowing Program.
At Brett Robinson, we love our teachers! Sherri Smith, a high school English teacher, joined our staff in 2016 and helped to implement the program we had been dreaming of – a Job Shadowing Program for our Summer Work Travel participants.
The Job Shadowing Program is designed to provide a work experience option for chosen participants to spend time with a local community professional. The work experience is temporary, unpaid exposure to the workplace in an occupational area of interest. Our goal is to match participants, as closely as possible, with a person or business in the student’s field of study. Student Services staff arranges for the participants to spend a day or two to job shadow during an actual workday. When a participant is chosen for the job shadowing program, the Student Services Department staff arranges for the day of participation to take place on one of the participants days off.
At the beginning of the season, we communicate with all of our Summer Work Travelers regarding the Job Shadowing Program. Interested participants submit a short essay explaining why they would like to participate and each summer we receive in excess of 40 applications. Applicants are extremely interested in learning from these local professionals and are anxious for tips and suggestions on how to be successful in this field. A few of the professionals with whom students have worked are: architects, physicians, marketing professionals, veterinarians, attorneys, utility company professionals, hospitality management, insurance executives and school teachers.
Matching a participant with a local community professional is quite rewarding for the Brett Robinson staff member who arranges the Job Shadowing event. Knowing that a participant will have this opportunity to learn- first hand- from a local professional and that this experience will positively impact the participant and the professional is sufficient motivation for anyone to strive to make these job shadow matches happen.
We have had many success stories from the participants and the local community professionals who have been a part of this program. One such story comes from Adel, who was happy to share about her Job Shadowing experience:
My name is Adel Szopos and I participated in Brett Robinson's Job Shadowing program in the summer of 2019. I study Veterinary Medicine back in Romania, so I went to the local vet practice, Gulf Coast Veterinary Hospital. Not only did I get to visit with the Dr. and his staff, but I was invited to be in the operating room to witness a surgery, as well as other procedures (like eye exams and teeth cleaning!). This opportunity was amazing to see in real-life, as compared to the things I have learned this year at my University. I talked with the vet and his team about a lot of interesting cases. Furthermore, the staff at the clinic explained to me how the school system works in the U.S., which is a lot different from mine back home. The job shadowing program was one of the reasons I chose this job placement for the summer, because I really wanted to see how my field of study looks like in the USA. I really enjoyed that day because I loved learning about how the veterinarian field and universities work in other countries.
The Job Shadowing program has proven to be a wonderful way to introduce our local community professionals to these exemplary young people from around the world. The professionals, who have participated in this program, have praised this effort and they have requested future participation. In fact, we begin to receive calls early in the year from previous participating professionals asking to be considered for participation in the upcoming year’s Job Shadowing Program. This exciting program enables our community residents- beyond Brett Robinson and our customers- to see these impressive young people, in a very positive way. Not only do participants learn from the professionals, but those professionals often reveal to us how much they actually gain from spending this time with the participants. The Job Shadowing Program has introduced our community professionals to these talented young people and, as a result, friendships are formed.
It is our hope that the Job Shadowing Program has had, and continues to have, a positive impact upon the lives of the many participants who have taken part and that is serves as a stimulus to their success. As we move forward with this program, we are pleased that it continues to reveal to all in our community that, we are all much more alike than different.
For more information on Work & Travel USA, please visit our website.