Recently we had a request for a high school student to shadow us at work. I agreed to allow the person to shadow me in June, not realizing the pandemic would be taking more of a foothold in my area. Because of the changing environment, I had to come up with an idea of how to allow shadowing online so I did not risk the health of the shadower, my co-workers, and myself.
Before coming up with a plan, I had to think about what Shadowers want to know. What skills do they need, what is the work environment like, what type of projects can they expect? Do you enjoy your career? After thinking about what is most important (and asking my shadower what she wanted to learn), I came up with a list of what to share.
Here is what I did:
1. I used my cell phone, and recommend a cell phone or tablet so you can move around. Then your desktop is available for other items.
2. We joined each other on WhatsApp. There are a lot of apps that can be used, like WhatsApp, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Google Duo, Apple FaceTime, Skype, Line, Viber, KakaoTalk (I have used this to chat with people in other countries) and WeChat.
3. Once connected, I showed her around the office so she could get a good idea of the setup. I also showed her our artwork. I know that sounds strange, but most people are curious. The office I work in has walls filled with movie posters, so it is more interesting than most offices. Or maybe the artwork reflects your type of work or the atmosphere you created to help you work.
4. I showed her the tools of my trade. Resources, techn
ical equipment, files (while keeping confidential information confidential), etc.
5. Once my student got an idea of our office setup, our equipment, and the tools we use, I was able to sit down and show her items like my schedule.
It is important for shadowers to know what your daily work routine is like. I have a very long (25 pages) to-do list that reflects my projects over the next few months. I then spent time explaining how I work each day through my to-do list.
6. We then discussed the online tools I use, the software our office uses, and how we use these important software tools. I was able to show her my computer screen since I was on a mobile device.
7. We then discussed some job specifics, what are my everyday movements, i.e. I speak to clients, discuss matters with my boss, work on my many projects, maintain appointments and other deadlines, review new projects coming, etc.
8. We discussed education. What type of education do I have? How did I build my career? I think this is a great way to end. What is the Shadower going to need to have a similar career?
9. Last, I asked my shadower what she was leaning towards for her college experience and a possible career. What did she want? Throughout the experience, the shadower was able to ask questions as well.
Allowing someone to shadow you online
can open up a new world for both parties. I realized an online shadow experience is a great opportunity for someone who is shy or too remote to shadow in your location. I'm glad I was able to participate in this way and hope to do many more in the future.
Just remember, if you decide to do an online shadow, be sure to ask your co-workers, boss, or managers, and be sure to keep client information confidential.