Before Graduation Experience: How Job Shadowing, Job Mentoring, and Internships Provide Value
Every year, more college students are entering the business world before graduation. While two decades ago, one couldn't get a job without a college degree, these days, many fields require college students to have related work experience through programs such as job-shadowing, mentoring, and internships in addition to their degree.
In a job market where employers face difficulties in attracting and keeping qualified professionals in fields like IT, more companies are discovering the benefits of job-shadowing, mentoring, and internships. Aside from test-driving potential employees who will work for experience, companies can easily sculpt a qualified intern into a particular position.
In job-shadowing programs, students visit a variety of companies and corporations in their field. During the site visits, which can last anywhere from an hour to several days, a student is paired with an employee and exposed to all aspects and departments of a company to get a first-hand look at the work place. Students can get involved in the projects and duties of their employee guide to get a better idea of what their daily tasks would be.
While job-shadowing only gives students a brief peak into your industry and your company's environment, the program may also overwhelm students with the flurry of advice. The brevity of the program can still make a very powerful impact on a student's impression of the field and the company. For example, Bristol-Mayer offered a job-shadowing program with top executives that was only 2 hours long.
When job-shadowing, divide the work interaction with interesting activities. For example, schedule a question and answer panel where students can meet with all the employee guides. This lets students see the career leader in the field as well as hear about other positions and become aware of the big picture of the job.
In contrast to college life, an intern may become overwhelmed in the 9 to 5 professional world. To address this issue, many companies assign mentors to interns. Mentors can be professionals from local industries, businesses, and corporations. In some cases, they may also be the same age or alumni from the same college as the person they're assigned to.
While traditional job mentoring offers students job advice, career counseling, and general support, internships that use job mentoring let companies shape an employee by gauging their progress in the internship. Mentors can also offer interns inside advice on career direction, provide job contacts, and reinforce skills taught in the classroom.
Every year, millions of college students apply for internships for a number of different reasons. Some need the experience for credit or as a graduation requirement. Some want to test a company's work environment before they apply. All are looking for an opportunity to apply what they've learned in the real world.
From what you may know from working with interns or as one yourself, internship programs have significantly evolved over the past decade. No longer seeing interns as short-term, temp workers who collate copies, more companies are designing internships that value interns for their abilities as well as their education. In addition, they try to cultivate these abilities by offering a supportive and creative work environment.
The Turner Broadcasting Group offered the Turner Boot Camp, a one-year internship for college seniors and recent graduates. Interns were not hired for specific departments, but instead regularly rotated between areas to work on a variety of different projects. Mixed with Turner's office environment, where boardrooms have bean-bag chairs and recliners instead of the usual long table and chairs, interns learned how the company works in addition to honing their career skills in a creative atmosphere.
In turn, Turner placed interns into permanent positions in departments where interns enjoy their work and fit the corporate culture. Turner retained many of its interns once the 'trial' was completed and not surprisingly, had thousands of internship applicants each spring.
As more college students enter the business world before graduation, the qualities of internships has improved dramatically. No matter what improvements take place, internships will still have to compete to attract and keep a student's interest.