Career Center job shadow program: The rewards of mentoring students

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 Sheila Stoeckel shared with us. Stoeckel is the associate director for strategic operations with UW–Madison’s Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring.


What were some highlights of the day for you? Participating in this event reminded me how incredible our student body is. I enjoyed meeting these two students and learning about their diverse backgrounds and future interests. It was especially interesting to hear their perspective as students on our instructor professional development program called Ready, Set, Teach! They sat in on the session on assessments and shared their thoughts on how assessment is happening in their courses. They also expressed appreciation that there is a unit helping develop instructors to improve their educational experiences.

What did you learn from the students you hosted in this experience? A big takeaway for me was just how much interdisciplinary learning our students are engaged in and how that is leading them to be interested in career paths that are equally interdisciplinary. That’s got me thinking about how, as an institution, our educational and recruitment efforts need to evolve to allow for multiple entry points.

How did this experience shape the way you think about recruiting students into your field? I appreciated the students sharing what they are looking for both in a first job and a career pathway. Balance was an important theme. This is helping me reflect on how our center can effectively recruit as we start to hire the incoming generation.

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 have two main pieces of advice, one that applies to any field and one that is especially relevant to my field of teaching and learning. First, be proactive about cultivating relationships, particularly mentoring relationships, and experiences that will help you learn and grow. Second, know that those who work in teaching and learning jobs in higher education come from all sorts of backgrounds, academic majors, and previous careers. Your own unique background is a strength!

Was hosting students a rewarding experience for you as a professional? Yes — I’ve benefited from several formative, transformational mentoring experiences in my own career. I appreciate the opportunity to give back by participating in programs like this. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these students and getting to highlight my field.

Would you be interested in hosting a student again in the future? Why or why not? Yes! The program was so well organized that it was easy to participate even during a busy time in our center’s calendar.

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