The Blizzard, the Bay, and Beloiters: A summary of the 2019 Sophomore Shadow Program
- Rita Chang
When students are asked about what they did over spring break, common responses include sleeping, eating, and relaxing. Twelve Beloit sophomores who participated in the Sophomore Shadow Program could also say they conducted autopsies on seals, beautified city streets alongside unhoused individuals, dissected sheep hearts, sat in on statewide census meetings, and met financial controllers of hospitals.
The Sophomore Shadow Program is a selective job-shadowing experience in which students shadow alumni and other professionals in their workplaces. Now in its seventh year, students traveled to Denver and the Bay Area to shadow at sites ranging from hospitals to software companies. Students were also graciously housed by alumni and friends of the college. Through a series of workshops led by Director for Community-Based Learning Carol Wickersham and Honors Term student Rita Chang’18, sophomores learned about professional communication, guest etiquette, and networking prior to their shadowing experience. Students developed “elevator pitches” to creatively and thoughtfully introduce themselves and crafted one-minute speeches to describe why they chose Beloit.
Students prepared to shadow professionals for two days and attend an admitted student reception where they would share their speeches. While the students in the Bay Area enjoyed the sun and sea, the students in Denver substituted a day of shadowing for board games and movies as a result of a fierce snowstorm that media outlets branded a “bomb cyclone.”
When asked about big takeaways from the week, students mentioned the importance of soft skills and the connectedness they felt with former and current Beloiters. Aryssa Harris’21 described the different ways she learned to connect with people. “I was able to try something new and understand the different lives of people.”
Walker Weyland’21 explained how his job experience showed him the value of being able to communicate complex ideas in simple ways. “It makes you realize you have to speak in a way everyone can understand.” Though the students in Denver missed a day of shadowing because of the snowstorm, Zimri Rodriguez-Oregel’21 reflected on the importance of adapting to new situations. “It is a skill that is valuable in life and no matter what you do, you will have to be flexible because things are not always going to go how you plan.”
As students connected with Beloit alumni and their cohort, they felt a greater appreciation for each other as Beloiters. “I really loved how proud they were of Beloit and that instilled in me a feeling of being proud of Beloit,” says Saad Ahsan’21 reflecting on his experience being hosted by Bob Winkler’62.
For Quisi Rodriguez-Oregel’21, the experience was better in the company of other students. “I enjoyed having a group with me. I was able to learn about their job sites and also experience new things with others.”