Science Professional "Shadowing" and Interview
by: J. Schnierlein
Brien McMahon H.S.
Norwalk, CT. 06854
Type of entry:
Project, but it has also been a classroom activity.
Type of activity:
This has been a hands-on activity, a simulation, an off-site activity, and a possible
Any student, high school preferred because of maturity level in the
work place, and the danger in some jobs.
I initially started doing this in marine biology because so many of my students all
wanted to be Jacques Cousteau, running around in a bathing suit in warm water, all-year-round.
Imagine the shock on some of their faces when they were told to be at the dock at 4:30 A.M. by the lobsterman who volunteered to take them out in January! Warn
the students about weather with out-door jobs. The project usually takes 45 minutes
to discuss in class, and about 8 to 10 hours for the student to accomplish.
After teaching for more than a quarter of a century I am seeing students less aware
of the skills required for most professions in this world. It is not their fault.
As a child, I can remember going to see my father at work in the steel mills when
we would pick him up at the end of the day. Many times he would take me for a walk through
the plant and explain what he did and what the other mens' jobs were. I knew I would
need math skills, industrial technology skills, communication skills, graphics skills, and so forth, and knew why I was taking courses in school. Today, that is almost
unheard of as insurance companies, company policies, daycare centers, etc. have
kept this information out of the home unless each parent spends the time explaining
careers to their children.
Some of you might be interested in a career in science or technology. This is your
opportunity to get a small taste of that career. You may present this in either
a written report format, or a videotaped production. Be sure the people you work
with are willing to be taped first before using that option.
Find a person who has a career in science or technology, and shadow them for at least
5 hours and complete the following:
Keep a detailed diary of events during the 5 hours:
Keep track of events in 15 minute time blocks, even if what is done appears to be
routine or dull. Record as much as possible about the person's job without being
obnoxious or getting in their way. (50 points)
Interview the individual in regards to his profession: (50 points total)
What skills are needed in: math, science, Industrial technology, English, history
or foreign language skills. (25 pts)
Salaries; beginning, mid-career, and end-of a career. Some professions work on
a quota system and then get good-year vs. bad-year salaries. (5pts)
Good and bad points of the job. (5 pts)
Equipment used: the boat, scientific equipment, costs to buy, lease and operate,
equipment (overhead costs). (5 pts)
Why they do what they do - what made them get into the profession and the number
of years the individual has in the profession (5 pts)
Was the day you observed a "typical" day, if not what was different. Also are
there any traditions involved in the job. (5 pts)
The questions and answers should be included with the diary. The diary should reflect
5 hours of recorded observations - not unconsciousness. It is much better to have
more observations than less.
When you have an idea who you would like to shadow, ask well in advance as these
are usually very busy people and they have to fit you into their schedule as well
as schedule a time appropriate for such an activity.
I suggest that you send the person you are interviewing a copy of this so they know
what to expect, as well as preparing for the interview. It would also be a courtesy
on your behalf to send the individual a copy of your report as well as a "Thank-you"
note for their time and commitment to education.
Some science-related careers in our area
Any doctor medical technician naturalist
lobster man oyster man curator at TMC
civil engineer mechanical engineer dentist
chemical engineer environmentalist environmental engineer
herpetologist ornithologist wildlife manager
game warden physicist planning & zoning officials
nurse chemist harbor commissioner
harbor master ichthyologist shellfish commissioner
fish-market owner public health official conservation commissioner
dental technician chemical technician safety inspector
pharmacist criminologist forensic scientist
astronomer physicians assistant astronaut
nurse practitioner midwife geologist
well driller architect electrical engineer
computer engineer zoologist botanist
pathologist entomologist virologist
bacteriologist zoo keeper Public works engineer
Sewage treatment tech. Water company tech. Science teacher
Electric company tech. phone company tech. forester
Cablevision tech. Electronics repairman Emergency Medical tech
veterinarian veterinary technician marine biologist
horticulturist landscape architect lab technician
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The following is taken and modified from work by E. Daugherty and S. Smith at San
Mateo (CA) H.S.
HOW TO SET UP AN INTERVIEW:
YOU CAN EITHER SET UP AN INTERVIEW BY MAKING CONTACT IN PERSON OR BY USING THE TELEPHONE.
IN EITHER CASE, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY BEFORE YOU START.
FOR EITHER TYPE OF CONTACT:
1. Know what you will say before you say it.
2. Be direct, polite, succinct.
3. Identify yourself as a Brien McMahon H.S. student. Then explain the purpose
of your call and the project.
4. Have many possible interview dates to choose from so you can accommodate the
professional's busy schedule. Remember that they are doing you a BIG favor.
5. Make sure that all parties know when the dates are.
6. Give the interviewee your name and phone number in case they need to contact
you. Anticipate scheduling problems!!
7. Ask if there is anything the interviewee thinks you should bring to the interview
or shadowing, such as special clothing or equipment.
ASK IF YOU WOULD BE PERMITTED TO TAKE PICTURES AND/OR TAPE THE INTERVIEW IF YOU HOPE
TO DO SO.
9. Thank them for their time at the end of the interview.
10. Send them a copy of your report and a thank-you note.
Certification of Career Project Interview
(turn this in with project)
Name of Interviewer(s): _____________________________________________
Date of Interview: _____/_____/_____ Time:____________
Location of Interview: _______________________________________________
Name of the Professional: ____________________________________________
Job Title: __________________________________________________________
Signature of the Professional: ________________________________________
Phone number: __________________________
About the interview?
To be filled in by the interviewee
Was the Interviewer on time?_________________________________________
Did the interviewer act in a courteous and prepared manner? _______________
Other Comments: __________________________________________________