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Job shadows...do you bother?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by flexmaster33, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    Just got done having a high school kid job shadow me, and it went pretty much the same as the last few I've had.

    Kid shows up needing to follow me around for 4-5 hours, and the deadline to get it done is fast-approaching. I usually end up having them come to a game with me then back to the office for a short bit to see how the game goes from the field to print.

    Every shadow recently has been a "punch the clock, fill out my form and let me go" type of thing. I always start off saying "feel free to ask me any questions along the way, and I'll explain what I'm doing as we go." The shadow proceeds to lurk around behind me, head down, no interest whatsoever. The only questions that come up are the same ones that each has on their assignment sheet. They jot down a few scant lines, get a signature and are off.

    Seems like our schools are doing a fine job ingraining the "I showed up for work, now give me my paycheck" mentality.

    I'm getting close to simply rejecting all requests in the future. Been accepting job shadows for a decade now and can count on one hand the number who've shown genuine interest in the assignment...none recently.

    In fact, I looked up the advisor for one about a year ago, for a kid who shadowed me and insisted he had all the answers for how to do my job. Ended up showing up for only half his required hours and tried to pass it off.
  2. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    I've had situations like that, and typically I always make sure that the teacher / professor knows that the kid did nothing. It's for two reasons: 1) To make sure they don't BS something and get an A. 2) The teacher / professor then knows for future reference that you aren't going to suffer fools, and will probably shepherd better kids to you in the future.
  3. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    That's to bad. On the one hand, I'd imagine a high school kid might be quite timid. On the other, I've never been involved in a school that actively requires job shadowing. It seems like a weird process.
  4. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Never really liked it.

    So much of what I do is instinctual, and the means by which I achieve my ends are not always easy to explain. Plus, sometimes I will work on something for 20 minutes and just toss the idea aside and just start over. Feels like having to "show my work" in Algebra, and I always hated that,
  5. bumpy mcgee

    bumpy mcgee Well-Known Member

    I did a job shadow in high school, and the writer dropped me off at a Holiday Basketball Tournament for a couple games, picked me up a few hours later and had me write a few roundups on the games I saw (he was actually at the tournament, just in the upper level the whole time).
    After that he had me ask him a few questions about the job.
    Was an interesting way to learn about the job by doing it.
  6. MightyMouse

    MightyMouse Member

    I had one given to me once on a night I was working the desk. Kid knew nothing of design/layout, Quark or AP style, and he seemed to care about it even less. It was ... unproductive.
  7. dkphxf

    dkphxf Member

    You could always try asking questions: "If you were writing the story, what element would you lead with? What questions would you ask the coach? Who was the most important player in the game? What was the most important play?" Get the kid to think critically about the situation. I would imagine most 14/15/16 year olds would be quite shy in that type of situation.
  8. EagleMorph

    EagleMorph Member

    Isn't that the point of job shadowing? So they can get an idea of what we use and do? Maybe the kid's school newspaper doesn't have fancy software to do layout. And no high school teaches AP Style. They use MLA or APA in English classes.

    Now the caring part is an issue, but expecting a high school student to know the tools of newspapering is a bit harsh.
  9. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    Yes, the caring about it is the main thing...put some effort into it. Don't sit around checking your cell phone every five minutes...watch the event, ask questions, get something out of it. I think much of the problem is the way teachers send out these assignments.

    I will take bumpy's suggestion and hand-off a notebook and pen next time and basically give the kid my own assignment while we're out next time.
  10. MightyMouse

    MightyMouse Member

    The caring thing was what bothered me the most. I figured his lack of familiarity would give us a lot to talk about as the night went on. But every time I stopped to explain what I was doing, he nodded his head and said, mm-hmm. It was like paginating with Slingblade's son.
  11. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I've done a couple of job shadows and actually enjoyed them. I'll give the student a tour of the newsroom, the press room (when it was on site) and the rest of the building. I'll show them the list of things I have to do that day, tell them what I like and what I dislike, talk my way through a few simpler tasks (such as putting a story on a page in QuarkXPress), ask them some questions and try to find out what makes them tick.

    Although it has never happened to me, a friend at another paper told me one of his job shadows turned into a very good intern/agate clerk. Now, who would mind having some extra help typing track agate on a busy day?
  12. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Only had to do it once at the small-town daily. The kid was a high school athlete who I had covered, so he was pretty interested in the whole process. What he wasn't crazy about, I'm sure, was coming in at 6 a.m. to watch me put out that afternoon's section.

    I did have some fun with him, though. When his mom came to pick him up, I told him to follow my lead. When the mom asked how it went, I made up this whole big story about how her kid had accidentally kicked out a plug on my computer, making me lose all of my work, then pressed the big red emergency button on the printing press, which ended up breaking it. Kid did a good job looking sad, mom looked shocked, until I let her in on the joke.
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