Career Center job shadow program: Helping students explore their interests

The School of Education’s Career Center launched a new job shadowing program in January for our undergraduate students majoring in Education Studies and Health Promotion and Health Equity.

In all, 26 students took advantage of the opportunity to take part in a one-day experience that was designed to help them gain a better understanding of the jobs and roles that are available in the field, broaden their knowledge of the sector, and network with professionals.

These students were hosted by 11 campus employers in health and education fields. In the future, there are plans to expand the program off campus.

To learn what students gained from their time with the job shadowing program — and to hear from the professionals what they enjoyed about hosting students — the School of Education’s communications team checked in with participants to conduct a Q&A about their experiences.

Following is what Roberta Rusch shared with us. Rusch is the assistant director of UW–Madison’s Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education (UW-CIPE).


What were some highlights of the day for you? I would say hearing about the students’ interests in health care and their future goals. I also appreciated their active participation with the activities that we had planned for the day. They had great questions and were very engaged.

What did you learn from the students you hosted in this experience? That they knew a lot more about health care and roles/responsibilities of different health care professionals than I had originally thought. 

If a college student wants to pursue a job in your field, are there any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along? I would say that every job experience or educational experience provides clues for you to pursue your next chapter, whether that is attending graduate school, applying for positions that you may not have thought you would have been interested in, or volunteering in the community both locally, nationally, and globally.  The bottom line, you don’t have to know what you want “to be” upon graduation. It is a journey.

Is there anything you do in your job that might surprise those who don’t work in your field? That I am able to work with over 10 different health professional programs across UW–Madison’s campus, as well as community organizations and other higher education institutions across the country. It is very rewarding to work across health profession programs and engage with faculty, students, and staff who are passionate about their own discipline as well as collaborating with those outside of their own profession. 

Was hosting students a rewarding experience for you as a professional? Yes. It provided an opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise in interprofessional education and to engage with students who have a true interest in health care and public health. It is exciting to see future health care professionals who are passionate about population health, education, and community service. 

If a colleague reached out to ask about allowing a student to job shadow them in the workplace for a day, would you urge them to participate? Yes. I would share with them that it is worth having students job shadow as it provides a new perspective about what you do, meaning the questions that students raise as you describe or demonstrate what you do can perhaps give you a new lens on ways you can do your job better. I also know how important it is to provide opportunities for undergraduates to learn what careers are available in academia and in health care.

Would you be interested in hosting a student again in the future? Yes, we really enjoyed having the two students with us, as well as for the reasons described above.

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