For the second year, Clark University students spent time during their winter and spring breaks with alumni who had opened their places of business as part of the ClarkCONNECT Alumni Job Shadow Program.
Nearly 40 students participated in the program this year — double the number who took part in 2019 — says Elizabeth Gittens, program manager and associate director of career development at the Career Connections Center, and 120 alumni volunteered to host students.
The program is designed to help students experience a typical day on the job in their prospective industries, expand their professional networks, discover new career paths, and learn firsthand what employers look for in potential employees. While the program involves job shadowing over winter and spring breaks only, Gittens says, it may be expanded to include summer opportunities in the future.
During spring break (March 9–13), some participating alumni had their work requirements change because of COVID-19 and had to amend how the students would shadow them. “Those alumni, however, did a wonderful job of putting time and effort into phone calls and teleconferencing with students,” Gittens says. “They went above and beyond what I expected them to do in such a challenging situation and I appreciate them all the more because of it.”
Sheila Ford ’20, a double major in physics and media, culture, and the arts, and Chandra Adhikari ’21, a computer science major, had the benefit of an in-person experience over winter break when they shadowed Beth Wolfset at Insight, a digital innovations company in Watertown, Mass. Ford and Wolfset had previously met via ClarkCONNECT, the University’s program that brings together students, alumni, faculty, parents, and friends to expand students’ knowledge and prepare them for a successful career launch.
“I was excited to see in action what she had discussed in our conversations,” Ford says. “In addition to holding an exciting and challenging position in the data world, Beth is also a wonderful mentor, and provided me with useful information and advice about careers and life.”
During her day at Wolfset’s company, Ford and her fellow “shadows” sat in on project meetings, met Wolfset’s colleagues in different departments, and learned more about Wolfset’s background and career path. The experience, Ford says, “caused me to think more seriously about a career that I was previously uncertain about, and the encouragement from everyone we met in the office has boosted my confidence in finding a position in a company with a positive and healthy work culture.”
Juliana Lugg ’21, a media, culture, and the arts major, and Kadijha Kuanda ’22, majoring in political science, were hosted during winter break by Maddie Rimsa ’15, MBA ’16, at City Year Boston, a national service program.
“It inspired me a lot,” Lugg says. “I left that day motivated to apply for more jobs and internships this summer. I felt like I really benefited from some of the meetings in which we talked about graduating from college and starting to work, and I left at the end of the day feeling calmer and more prepared. Maddie was so kind and she created a day for us that was interesting and diverse in terms of who we met and what we talked about.”
Kuanda says that Rimsa asked her ahead of time what her interests were and “created a schedule for me accordingly — so I got to meet a project manager, the diversity, equity and inclusion director, and many other fascinating people. I was surprised how much I could learn in just one day, and was happy to be part of the program. Most importantly, it was a great networking experience!”
Emanuel Sapalo ’21, who majors in international development and social change, completed his job shadow in January at the Rhode Island Superior Court with Associate Justice Brian Stern ’88. Sapalo attended chamber meetings and conferences, court hearings, and a trial, and spent time one-on-one with Stern. “I began by learning about his professional journey … and summed up by reflecting on what I had learned,” Sapalo says.
“Through the program, I realized that you can excel if you’re surrounded by people who inspire you to do better. I was so impressed with the image that our school has out there, and this challenged me to maintain that standard. This program made me realize that the barriers to making a difference are breakable if you have the right tools.”
After hosting Sapalo, Stern posted on LinkedIn, “It has been wonderful hosting Emanuel Sapalo as a part of the Clark University Alumni Job Shadow Program. Emanuel observed a felony assault criminal jury trial as well as a number of business cases. Happy to have a fellow Clarkie in my courtroom.”
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