The 5 o’clock shadow
Boeing builds partnerships,
supports education through
BY DEBBY ARKELL
Every year for the past six years, Boeing has brought in children of all ages to "shadow" adults in the work place. With events such as career day, family day, Take Your Children to Work Day, and now Job Shadow Day, Boeing has built a partnership with the educational community that is sure to shed light on the world of work.
The Boeing Company's Puget Sound-area sites participated in National Groundhog Job Shadow Day on March 13. Job Shadow Day is an educational opportunity with specific learning objectives for students involved in Junior Achievement and for children and relatives of Boeing employees. Other Boeing sites participate in similar programs known by different names and on different dates, with events tailored to meet local needs and security requirements.
"Boeing is an active supporter of K-12 education," said Bob Watt, vice president of Government and Community Relations for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Involvement in a structured Job Shadow Day program provides clear links between education and career choices for high school children nationwide, benefiting all who participate."
The Boeing Company and Junior Achievement partner early on to ensure the event is a success. Employee involvement specialists at Boeing sites determine the number of students each site can host to maximize the benefit for students and minimize disruption in the work place. Boeing shares this information with Junior Achievement, which then selects students throughout the school districts, from both outlying and inner-city schools.
"Boeing has established partnerships with 27 districts in the Puget Sound region alone," said Joyce Walters, Community Investment manager for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Without this partnership, the Job Shadow program wouldn't work."
Boeing works together with the Junior Achievement organization to develop detailed, structured curricula for participating students. The leaders assign students work packages in advance of the shadow event to help them understand what they'll be doing and what's expected of them. In those packages are assignments they must complete prior to the job shadow event, information on what to expect when they visit work sites and materials to complete when they visit Boeing. Participants also have assignments in the classroom upon their return. Teachers and Boeing hosts also receive a job shadow guide to facilitate the process.
"Hosting Job Shadow Day events at Boeing really helps break down the fallacy that all adults do at work is have meetings or talk on the phone," Walters said. "Showing students how we use technology, communication skills, teaming and data-collection skills makes a difference in the way high schoolers view their futures and what it means to have a career. It also helps them understand how relevant their course studies are when they enter the workforce."
And the benefits are tangible—for the students and for Boeing. Students who participate in the Job Shadow program often forge positive relationships with their hosts, corresponding with them years later. When the students return to their classrooms and share what they learned "on the job" they help to compound the benefits as other students become interested in Junior Achievement and life at Boeing.
"The students who participate in Job Shadow Day at Boeing often ask very difficult, insightful questions of their hosts," Walters said. "The relationships they forge are positive ones, and the program often gives them guidance they may not get at home or in a classroom setting."
Boeing employees who hosted students on Job Shadow Day also benefited. The satisfaction derived from volunteering time for the betterment of their communities is one aspect hosts often cited. Also, hosts said the program gave them an enhanced respect for the importance of education and the challenges high-school-aged children face regularly.
"That's why we bring the students in to Boeing," Walters said. "Together we can make a difference—this year more than 600 Boeing employees hosted children on Job Shadow Day."
Boeing takes the feedback it collects from its job shadow hosts and that which Junior Achievement collects from teachers and students and uses it to improve next year's event.
"Boeing is committed to helping students make a positive transition from school to work," Watt said. "Participation in Job Shadow Day is just one small part of a larger plan to improve the communities where we live and work and build a better future for the next generation of Boeing employees."
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