New career-readiness tool offers students virtual job-shadowing experiences

CTE teachers explore VirtualJobShadow at job-alike training

In addition to traditional job-shadowing visits, HISD students in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program will soon be able to use just about any computer or tablet in the classroom or at home to digitally follow engineering, health, oil and gas, and other professionals in high-demand careers.

The district’s Career Readiness Department has collaborated with, an interactive career planning and exploration resource, to introduce students to career opportunities, prepare them for college and the workforce, and increase their awareness of local workforce development efforts. During the 2014–2015 school year, the tool will be offered to 100,000 students in the CTE program at 110 of the district’s secondary schools.

“In a school district of choice, students have over 40 high schools with more than 150 career education programs to choose from within these schools,” said HISD Assistant Superintendent of Career Readiness Michael Webster. “Such choices require students and their families to be well-informed about potential careers.  What better way is there to connect students to careers than with real-life, job-shadowing experiences available at a click of a button?”

Several CTE teachers got a first look at during a session on career development online tools and resources at the department’s job-alike training this month. HISD career readiness specialists gave attendees a tour of the website, which features day-in-the-life career profile videos of professionals from companies such as General Motors, NASA, and UPS.

“These video clips actually put students in the shoes of these professionals,” said Reagan High School audio video teacher Michael Shea. “I like the fact that these videos have been and are being updated to show 21st century workers working in the 21st century job market. When I went to school, these videos and the people in them seemed so distant from the students. You simply could not relate to the people.”

Shea, who filmed an iPhone video of teachers participating in the job-alike training, says he plans to encourage his students to use their mobile phones to document their job-shadowing experiences and create videos similar to those on VirtualJobShadow.

CTE teacher Mary Williams says the tool will allow her to enhance instruction in her human resources management class at Austin High School and give students the chance to access the resource on their own terms at home, since every student was given a laptop under the district’s PowerUp initiative.

“I believe it will give students an insight into what is required of the potential career choices they are about to make,” Williams said. “Many times, I have found that students plan to major in areas because of their popularity, and when they get to college, they return to tell me that they have made the wrong choice. This tool will allow students to peek into what it takes to obtain those careers and make some decisions that will eventually save them time, money, and disappointment.”

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