In an effort to provide an inspirational yet cost-effective tool in career exploration, the Mid-Willamette Education Consortium (MWEC) in Salem, Oregon, recently adopted the use of VirtualJobShadow.com, a comprehensive career planning resource that allows students to shadow real people in real jobs from any computer or tablet without ever leaving the classroom.
Scattered over four rural counties about 60 miles from the Oregon coast, the MidWillamette Education Consortium is comprised of 29 high schools and two community colleges. Though VirtualJobShadow.com will be utilized only in the region’s high schools for now, the local community colleges provide a pathway through programs of study between high school and secondary education, allowing indirect access and benefits once VirtualJobShadow.com is implemented.
Perkins Regional coordinator is Ed Woods, who has a strong background in both teaching and business. He manages the consortium’s budget and says there is an emphasis this year on state and national advocacy for Career and Technical Education, so VirtualJobShadow.com and its innovative, digital approach seemed a perfect fit and a good investment for his high schools.
“What sold me,” he said, “was the high quality of the career videos and the wide variety of the many jobs they cover. These are thoughtful, well-produced videos that challenge the students and make them realize these are jobs they might actually want to do, based upon real people who are doing them. I liked the Q&A sessions at the end of each video and the solid background of each person presented on tape. The videos cover all aspects of career exploration in a way that is neither boring nor outdated, as many career films have been in the past.”
“In addition, since many of our schools are rural due to our agricultural base, it’s not cost or time-effective to get to an actual job site for shadowing. Imagine if one of our Oregon students wanted to join NASA as a scientist? It’s not likely he or she could ever get there to experience the job in advance. But with VirtualJobShadow.com, now they can. That’s pretty exciting. Furthermore, why spend time on a career path you’ve never explored only to learn too late that it’s not the right one for you?”
VirtualJobShadow.com, created by Strivven Media, offers engaging job shadowing experiences across many different career fields. “We’re thrilled to welcome the schools in the Mid-Willamette Consortium into our partnership! Students can look forward to exciting new job shadows coming this year, especially in high -demand STEM fields,” said CEO of Strivven Media, Kim Celentano.
“Virtual job shadowing is the future,” said Ed Woods. “I can see its value as early as middle schools, when students are just beginning to consider potential careers and as late as college, where it can serve as a recruitment tool. For all schools, it’s affordable, efficient and allows students to step outside their bubble and explore the jobs that, in the past, they could only dream about.”