How to explore potential careers with summer work shadowing

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Illustration: Dillon Yeh

You may not have heard about it yet, but this year’s Summer Work Shadowing Scheme is shaping up to be one of the largest in the programme’s history.

Through the scheme, students have the chance to shadow a professional host for one day. Hosts come from all over the world and work in a large variety of sectors, including aviation and film.

“Last year, we had 386 out of 12,000 students take part,” first year management student and work shadow coordinator Samantha Ross said. “I want to get into the thousands in terms of available hosts and students.”

Though host applications closed on March 31, the number of hosts already matches that of the January work shadowing scheme.

“The summer scheme is longer and has a broader variety of people,” Ms Ross said.

The programme boasts 148 hosts, including options like Dunkin Donuts, STV Glasgow and Lionsgate Entertainment.

Ms Ross said: “We have a lot of self-started businesses and heads of marketing. We have opportunities in surprising places like Pakistan and with American universities.”

Other opportunities include shadowing Christian ministers, an event director in London and several Liberal Democrat politicians. Schemes occur through alumni and student connections, but Ms Ross hopes to extend opportunities to shadowing local businesses, Members of Parliament and “all friends of the University.”

Ms Ross has participated in the programme herself by working with an Edinburgh bookshop and the department store John Lewis. “Until then, I had no idea what to do,” Ms Ross said. “[The programme] made me think about graduate schemes, not just jobs. I had been thinking about independent places to work until John Lewis changed my mind.”

The programme has received positive feedback regarding its January scheme. Testimonials from past participants can be found on the Careers Center webpage. The scheme can lead to internship endorsements, references for Masters courses and increased confidence among participants.

When choosing a scheme, Ms Ross advised students to glance over the Student Guide.

“Have a look and carefully choose a scheme,” she said. “Do background research on the position. Some of our hosts have said that students sometimes go in clueless.”

Most of all, Ms Ross emphasized initiating and maintaining contact with hosts even if you’re not available on the days that shadowing opportunities are held. If you can’t come in to meet a host, you can always ask questions over e-mail.

Ms Ross said: “Be polite and enthusiastic. Remember to thank them. Take as much from the opportunity as possible.”

You can register interest in the scheme through the Careers Center website. Student applications open April 10.

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