UChicago has provided me with many opportunities outside the classroom and one of most influential ones was UChicago's Job Shadowing Program. I learned about the Job Shadowing Program through the Career Advancement office my fall quarter of my first year and I’m so grateful that I took advantage of this amazing program that the office and UChicago alumni have provided for us students.
As part of the Job Shadowing Program, the Career Advancement Office matches you with a mentor – a UChicago alumni – who works in a field or industry that you are interested in. Your mentor then will plan a day or multiple days of visits where you will go into work with them and learn about what a typical day is like for someone of their career. Job Shadowing typically happen the first week of break – both for Winter Break and for Spring Break.
In the Job Shadowing application, you choose a city which you would like to visit (for me, I chose San Francisco since my home is about 20 minutes away) and also indicate which fields you are interested in. As an engineering major, I chose STEM, tech, and entrepreneurship as my top three interests. Both times I took part in the job shadowing program, I was paired with a mentor who worked for a tech company.
My first job shadowing was with a company called Segment. I along with three other UChicago students began our day with our mentor. We had our introductions in a coffee shop downstairs and then he gifted us notebooks so we could write down any important learnings throughout the day. I remember visiting their building and taking the elevator up to one of the top floors and being greeted by an office filled with colorful leaves and sounds of running water. During that first visit, my mentor introduced me to a number of different people who worked for his company – software engineers, product managers, people in sales – and I was able to have half hour conversations with them in the special group rooms. It was very eye-opening and informative and I really appreciated getting to talk with a range of adults in different roles.
My second job shadowing was with a larger company called Unity Technologies. I had a similar experience as with Segment where my mentor introduced me to a number of different coworkers who told me about their different roles. My mentor also scheduled time for me to experience their Virtual Reality room – which was a super nice bonus! Upon returning, enlightened by my conversations with employers at both of the companies, I decided to pursue a minor in Computer Science.
In addition to Job Shadowing, UChicago’s Career Advancement Office also offers another program called Treks. Treks can range from one-day to week-long opportunities where a group of 15-25 students can explore a number of different companies within their field of interest. During my first year, I attended a STEM trek that took place in Chicago, IL during one of our holidays during Winter Quarter. We visited three organizations but the visit that was most formative for me was when we visited an advanced materials company called Nangraf. Hearing about the company from the founders and getting to walk around the lab and see the work they were doing sparked my interest in batteries and energy storage. About a year later, I joined the Amanchukwu Lab at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering where I am working on a project on liquid electrolytes for Li-based batteries. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to attend the trek which led me to discovering and working in the field of energy storage.
UChicago’s Job Shadowing and Treks were two very important programs that helped shape my academic pursuits and career aspirations. I am currently in my fourth year at the university but one of my tips for any of you prospective or incoming students is to check out all the resources that your school has to offer! If I hadn’t signed up for listhosts (and read the emails) or explored the Career Advancement website, I might not have had the chance to take advantage of all that my university had to offer.