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Traditionally, job shadowing is an opportunity for a new hire, prospective employee, potential intern, or even a curious student to observe, follow, or “shadow” an established staffer to understand their daily duties, parameters of the job, and get an overview of the company. And now it’s gone virtual. From July 13-17, K12 is hosting its first virtual Job Shadow week and the programs can be viewed as webinars on Nepris.

Job Shadow week was conceived as a collection of in-person events nationwide, but “was transitioned to a virtual offering due to COVID-19,” said Leilani Brown, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and projects at K12. “We see a silver lining” to bringing the “experience entirely online,” giving students “the added benefit of exposure to the increasingly virtual world of work.”

Designed for teens, participants will have access to interactive workshops, professional development courses, and networking opportunities. Any US student, 13 and older, in middle or high school, with an internet-enabled device and a camera, may apply. Some sessions may be more geared towards students close to graduation. For those interested in participating, but are younger than 13, a parent or guardian must contact be included for registration to be approved (due to online safety requirements for children).

The program is free, and because events are virtual, “No matter geographic location or socioeconomic status, participants can talk to any employer that might interest them,” Brown said.

“Once a student registers,” Brown explained of the annual event, “they’re automatically enrolled in all 21 sessions, covering e-gaming, public service, human resources, hospitality, agriculture, and more.”

Sessions offered include those from online platform Tallo, the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for African Americans, NALCS, Google, US Department of Homeland Security, Triple Creek Ranch, Spelman College, Nokia, the Miami Dolphins, the Lake Tahoe-located walnut farm Fatco, the Motion Picture Association (MPA), CollegeBoard, YouTube, George Washington University, NASA, and Salesforce.

There are two sessions each day, morning and afternoon, and will allow for live interactions between participants and professionals.

With the interactive Nepris platform students can participate in live interactions, “view curated video playlists, and utilize the Nepris Career Explorer tool to research career pathways,” Brown said.

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Tallo will host a session on networking and the importance of mentors. Tallo also gives students the chance to match with $20 billion in scholarships and financial aid through scholarship-matching engine Red Kite.

Its president and CEO, Casey Welch, said he hopes Job Shadow week will “renew hope and excitement for students across the country.”

The week will give a real-life look at “what it would be like to work at some of the big, important companies, how to apply for scholarships, complete their first resume or application,” Welch added, and “what’s to come, when the future can feel very murky.”

Brown said, “It’s important for students to get a glimpse into the work world, especially in high school, because” it provides confidence “in decisions they make about what comes after their high school diploma.”

Many students, whether propelled by parents or indecision, “jump into four-year degree programs with only a vague idea about the kind of day-to-day work their industry of interest requires,” Brown stressed.

“I hope that this virtual Job Shadow Week will show companies, colleges, and organizations a new way of doing things, we don’t have to cancel everything, because we can’t be together in person,” Welch said. “Young people around the world are embracing technology and virtual connections, and it’s time the rest of us caught up.”

Given the emphasis on tech (although a variety of industries are covered), Brown stressed that going totally virtual “means we’re unlocking this potential even further, connecting to more students.”

Educators and business leaders have opportunities and responsibilities to support students navigating their futures, Brown said. With summer internships depleted, “parents are looking for ways to set their kids on the path to success and fulfillment, while business leaders are looking to fill the talent, skills, and interest-gaps for the next generation of hires.”

“We’re giving students early exposure to the skills and expectations they’ll need to enter a variety of careers, so they can invest in their futures more efficiently,” Brown said, “whether through career-oriented courses in high school, enrolling in higher ed, pursuing certificate programs, or training bootcamps instead of” the more conventional “four-year degree track.”

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