By Eva Bryner
Western’s first campus-wide job shadow program is being piloted by the Alumni Association, matching students with alumni in their field.
The program, Western@Work, was created by Associated Students Alumni Coordinator Samanta Baxley and has received upwards of 70 student applications.
Western@Work will continue to accept applications from both alumni and students until Dec. 16, Baxley said.
“I think it’s essential for students to have the ability to see what their careers after college look like,” Baxley said. “We’re going in these programs and doing the schoolwork behind it, but a lot of us don’t know what we’re going to be doing with these degrees after we graduate.”
The program will allow students to shadow alumni in their field for one day, but does not promise a job offer or pay, Baxley said.
“I think a lot of students are trying to figure out what they want to do for their careers and lives and are figuring out how to get engaged in that work,” Associate Dean for Student Engagement Eric Alexander said via email.
Five companies have confirmed they will host students, including the Lighthouse Mission, Whatcom Community Foundation and Birch Bay Health, Baxley said.
“The hope is that we match as many students as possible, and given that so many students have signed up so early we are reaching out to more alumni, and trying to get more hosts signed up,” Baxley said.
Western@Work is partnering with the Career Services Center [CSC], and students will receive a one hour training before their job shadow to prepare them and answer any questions, Baxley said.
“Our career services area and our colleges/departments do a great job, this is helping to supplement that work by connecting our invested alumni to our students while also connecting students to meaningful experiences outside the classroom,” Alexander said via email.
As of now, the program is a pilot and there is no guarantee it will happen again after this quarter. The Alumni Association will decide if the program will continue when the program has finished, Baxley said.
Western@Work will pair students with alumni on a first come, first serve basis, and if there are not alumni to pair someone with, the student will have priority in future quarters, Baxley said.
Some job shadows may require students to travel and the program encourages students shadowing the same company or person to carpool or travel together, according to the Western@Work homepage.
Matches for the program will be announced on Jan. 2, 2020, with CSC workshops available Jan. 14 or 15, 2020, and the job shadow itself on Jan. 30 or 31, 2020.
“As a student, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I graduated,” Baxley said. “I saw this as an option that other students might enjoy too.”
Seventy-seven percent of Western graduates from 2017-2018 with a bachelor’s degree were employed six months after graduation, according to the CSC Graduate Outcomes Report.
“Overall, [Western@Work] is about supporting the growth of Western students as they prepare for the rest of their lives,” Alexander said.