Written by: Kaitlyn Long // Apex AOIT ’16
On Thursday, November 11, the AOIT freshman class participated in a job shadowing experience. This event is coordinated in the fall of every year, and is used to help AOIT’s youngest members get a better glimpse into the real-world proceedings and what different kinds of jobs are available to them. For the most part, each student shadows someone unique: some go to work with their parents for a day, some shadow a family friend with a cool career, and others utilize the expertise of Mr. Evans to be placed in an enriching experience with one of the Advisory Board members.
A notable instance of the latter included Advisory Board member Connie Freeman. Mrs. Freeman is employed by the JMP division of the SAS Institute, which provides statistical analysis to businesses and governments around the world.
JMP hosted three students–Jess Hair, Sara Moushegian, and Audrey Payne–and Mrs. Freeman decided to give them an experience they wouldn’t soon forget. The itinerary included a job shadow of both Mrs. Freeman herself and Ms. Olivia Lippincott, an Apex High AOIT alum. In accordance with the shadowing, these students also participated in the execution and analysis of an experiment conducted by JMP analyzing characteristics of chocolate.
I recently got the chance to talk with Mrs. Freeman about the job shadowing experience, demonstrated from the mentor’s perspective. I asked her 6 questions, and her responses are very telling about the successes and strengths of job shadowing:
What are your daily responsibilities at SAS? How does technology influence those responsibilities?
I help state & local government agencies across the United States better understand their data and use it to make decisions, such as a state finding Medicaid fraud, the City of Denver analyzing crime data or the City of Durham monitoring the water quality of Falls Lake. Technology is a part of everything I do. I am always on a computer; searching the web for more information on a customer, holding webcast sessions with customers to learn more about our software, or using CRM applications like SalesForce to track activities with customers for example.
I think the job shadow opportunity is so important for students. It allows them to see what the actual activities could be for a job. Some as simple as searching the internet or mailing materials to customer to others as complicated as coding new software. It gives students a taste of the business world.
[It] allows freshman students the opportunity to consider job options they may not have considered and actually like.
What were the students’ responses to the job shadowing experience?
In general, they really appreciated getting to see several different job roles (tester, developer and systems engineer) and what SAS was really like. One student is not looking into a career in statistics.
What is important for students to consider when choosing an AOIT internship, and how does the job shadowing process affect this decision?
It would be great for a student to choose an internship in a field of interest if possible. This would allow them to narrow their intended major and possible college choice. Regardless it will give them job experience which they can put on their resume.
What advice can you give for students considering careers in technology?
The nice thing about technology is it is ever changing. This means you will constantly be evolving in a job as you continue to learn which is fun! Don’t be afraid to consider a job even if you don’t have have all the qualifications especially in entry level roles. The company will have a training curriculum to get them started.