Job shadowing helps businesses connect with students and the community

Andy Schenck is the Director of Programs at Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee (JA), a non-profit organization that teaches students in kindergarten through high school how to manage their money, succeed in the workplace, and thrive as adults in the twenty-first century. JA makes learning fun by using volunteers from local businesses and from the community to lead hands-on programs and experience-based activities for students during the school day. Andy has worked at Junior Achievement for seven years and is the parent of a Metro Nashville Public Schools student; his daughter attends Dan Mills Elementary School in East Nashville. Academies Nashville students job shadowing technology Deloitte

Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee’s Job Shadow program gives high school students a taste of the workplace by letting them spend a few hours during the school day job shadowing a professional who works in the industry that students are studying through the Academies of Nashville small learning communities. With this hands-on experience, students realize what it is like to go to work everyday, the responsibilities of an employee, and the steps they will need to take in order to pursue a career in a particular field.

Businesses that host job shadow students play an important role in training the future workforce while giving back to the community and mentoring young people. Job shadowing also provides a chance for professionals to build long-term relationships with students as they graduate high school, attend college, and prepare to get a job.

For host companies, the time commitment is manageable. Students are on site from about 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for a one-day experience. Students tour the facility and interact with different employees and departments. They usually eat lunch with you before returning to school, which is a great opportunity for professionals to share advice and answer questions. Although there is some preparatory work involved for the hosts, Junior Achievement and MNPS provide all the resources needed to successfully run this program in your office.

To make the most of the experience, the activities you offer the students should be engaging, interactive, and as much like the real world as possible. Junior Achievement's Web site offers additional information and ideas for successful hosting and job shadowing.

Job shadow days will occur during the work day throughout the month of March. This will give companies the perfect opportunity to leverage existing Academy partnerships. In order for this job shadowing initiative to be a success, we need involvement from businesses and the community. Through this unique program, we can encourage the students of Nashville as they explore different careers and push them to achieve their professional goals.

Visit JA's Web site for more information on getting involved with the JA Job Shadow program. To sign up to host Job Shadow students, register on the job shadowing host sign-up form or email

If you have hosted job shadow students in the past, what were some of their favorite activities? What kinds of hands-on experiences did you have as a high school student?