Job Shadow Networking Success Stories

Shadowing success

How OSU’s job shadow program helped Kyle Joy chase his childhood dream.

Kyle Joy, wearing an Oregon State T-shirt, poses with scientist Renee Bellinger. Bright blue skies, tropical plants, and a rocky landscape are visible behind them in the distance.

Kyle Joy loves rocks and volcanoes. Loves them so much that he left behind a 12-year career in restaurant management to study geology at Oregon State. His dream job? Getting paid to research his passions full-time as a professional geologist.

So when he saw a possibility to connect with an OSU alumnus who works at the U.S. Geological Survey by signing up for OSU’s Job Shadow program, Kyle was all in.

“I saw USGS and I just zeroed in on that,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to work in the USGS.” The fact that the alumni host for this job shadow worked in Hilo, Hawaii – a place where Kyle had family members living – made it even better.

A few months after learning about the job shadow program, Kyle was in Hawaii meeting with scientists at the USGS’ Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

“The amount of time and compassion all of them took to meet with me, it blows my mind. It’s been the most impactful thing to happen to me at this university.”

Kyle Joy, Geology student, 2023 Job Shadow participant

Now in its sixth year, the Job Shadow program matches OSU students with alumni and other working professionals who have successful careers in fields that the student applicants are curious about. Job shadows typically take place over the summer and provide students with the chance to observe life on the job, ask questions, and learn from the host they’re matched with.

Because Kyle had family in Hawaii, he chose to travel to Hilo and complete his job shadow in person. Most OSU students get matched with a host who works near where they will be spending the summer, or complete long-distance job shadows virtually, via video meetings and informational interviews.

Job shadow experiences can last anywhere from a half day to several days. In Kyle’s case, when his job shadow host, M. Renee Bellinger, learned of his passion for volcanoes, she found a colleague at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), Ken Hon, who was also willing to meet with Kyle. Kyle spent several days in Hilo, learning from both Bellinger and Hon. During his time with Hon, the HVO scientist asked Kyle to join in the HVO team’s morning meeting. 

“I was on Zoom with like 150 scientists,” Kyle recalls. “I talked for five minutes about who I was, and then he said ‘Would anyone else be willing to speak with Kyle?’ So many people raised their hands. It was an outpouring of willingness to help an eager student. I had to pinch myself.”

Personal connections like this are the one of the reasons OSU launched the program, according to Wendy Allison, External Relations Manager from OSU’s Career Development Center, who leads the Job Shadow program.

“The Job Shadow program is a fantastic way for students to start building their professional network now,” she said. “Coming out of the program, students are more confident and prepared for their future because of the connections and experiences that they’ve had.”

A photo showing layers of rock strata in the Hawaiian landscape, taken during Kyle Joy’s 2023 job shadow, shadowing geologists working in Hilo, Hawaii.

Back in Corvallis, Kyle is completing his geology degree, figuring out what’s next after OSU, and remains in touch with his job shadow host. 

“This program gave me consistent interaction and communication with an alumni in a way that feels meaningful and sustainable,” he said. “I would definitely recommend it.”

For the 2024 Job Shadow program, more than 100 placement possibilities are open to students, in fields ranging from forensic pathology to designing motion graphics for video games to cybersecurity consulting. Job shadow applications are open through May 3, 2024.

Learn more about the Oregon State Job Shadow program

Job Shadow program details

Possible host sites for 2024 Job Shadow participants

Sample questions to ask during your job shadow

Job Search Networking

A guide to LinkedIn for college students

Five ways to maximize LinkedIn

A person wearing pink pants holds a smartphone on their lap. The screen shows the LinkedIn logo.

Are you making the most of LinkedIn? As of 2023, it’s the 16th-largest website in the world (just two spots below Tiktok!), and it’s also a completely free way to build an online presence that can boost your job or internship search.

Check out these five ways you can maximize LinkedIn to achieve your career goals.

Step one: create a profile.

Think of your profile as a digital version of your resume – it’s a place to show off who you are and the skills you can bring to a new organization. 

Don’t think that because you’re still in college, you don’t have anything to add. Even if you don’t have extensive work experience, or you’re in the middle of changing careers, you can highlight the skills you’ve gained just being a student

Start simple: begin with your name, a profile photo, and what you’re studying at OSU, then build it up from there. Here’s how to get started.

Step two: make connections.

Even if you’re not looking for a job today, you will be someday. Build a network now so that when you need a job, you have a ready-made community you can turn to for introductions or tips on job openings. 

First, search LinkedIn for people you already know: friends, co-workers, past bosses, professors, and advisors. Don’t forget current classmates – they’ll be a valuable network for you in the future.

Then, reach out to people you WANT to know. It’s normal and acceptable to send a connection invite to OSU alumni or people with jobs you find interesting. Try to find a point of common ground, such as a shared interest or a mutual acquaintance, and personalize your request.

  • How to connect with OSU alumni:
    1. Find Oregon State on LinkedIn and click on the alumni tab. Use the search tool to find alumni from your college or major, or who are working at companies you’re interested in, then send them a personalized connection request.
  • Sample connection invitations you can modify:
    1. Hi Xiomara – I am currently a senior studying mechanical engineering at Oregon State and hope to enter the aerospace industry upon graduation. I noticed that you are an OSU graduate with experience in this industry. I would love to connect with you and learn more about your career path. Thanks in advance! – Phuong Quynh
    2. Hi Mikayla – I am currently studying graphic design at Oregon State University and hope to work for a creative agency one day. I loved your recent post about the brand redesign you did for XYZ client – it was fascinating to hear your behind-the-scenes process. I’d love to connect and learn more about how you got started in this field. – Elliott Hashimoto
    3. More sample connection templates

Step three: talk to others.

Once you’ve joined LinkedIn, you can increase your visibility by staying active. Even if you just post an update or comment on others’ posts once a month or so, you’re building a reputation as a positive member of an online community.

  • Join a group. Just like other social platforms, there are subgroups on LinkedIn for all kinds of interests. Enter a keyword related to your major or potential career in the search bar at the top, then click “groups” to filter your search results. Tip: Start by joining the Beaver Careers Group.
  • Share personal updates. You could post about a project you just completed for class or write about a small victory: “Just finished my last final! This term was tough but I loved my horticulture class – I learned so much about plant identification!”
  • Re-post an article you liked and take advantage of LinkedIn’s “repost with your thoughts” button to add a sentence or two about why you found it interesting.
  • Here are 10 more LinkedIn post ideas.

Step four: Advance your skills.

As an OSU student, you have access to a free LinkedIn Learning account. There are more than 18,000 online classes you can take to gain new skills and earn certifications you can post on your profile. Here’s how to log in to OSU’s LinkedIn Learning.

Not sure which courses to take? Do a search for jobs you might be interested in, then look at the qualifications listed. Are you missing anything? LinkedIn Learning might have a class you could take to fill in that gap. It’s a great (and free!) way to build on what you’re learning at OSU. Check out courses related to business, technology, and creative skills.

Step five: Get job alerts.

Your LinkedIn profile is also the key to an enormous job posting network. Instead of browsing through individual listings, use the platform’s automated tools to get notified about jobs that would be a good fit for you. 

  • Make sure that you’ve added skills to your profile (these could be personal skills like communication or teamwork, or skills specific to your field, like Python coding or market research). LinkedIn will use your listed skills to auto-suggest jobs for you every time you log in.
  • To set up job alerts based on your own preferences, click “Jobs” from the LinkedIn top menu bar, then select “preferences” and “job alerts.” 
  • You can also search for a job on LinkedIn, and then filter the results for things like job type (full-time, part-time, internship), job location, and experience level.

Want to learn more about LinkedIn?

Use these videos to make your LinkedIn presence even better.

Rock your LinkedIn profile

Using AI to help create your LinkedIn profile