More than 1,000 students with a variety of educational backgrounds are expected to participate in Cisco Networking Academy’s third annual Groundhog Job Shadow Day. The event, which kicked off at the beginning of the month and will wrap up some time in early April, is part of a larger program developed by the U.S. Department of Labor and sponsored by Junior Achievement and America’s Promise.
The Groundhog Job Shadow Day events includes tours, presentations and panels, and, of course, job shadowing. “We use them, first and foremost, to give students an idea of the various careers out there,” said Gene Longo, senior manager of the Cisco Networking Academy. “We also want to open their minds up to technologies that they may not be exposed to in the classroom. We could show them some things with IP telephony that their school probably wouldn’t have the resources to do.”
Cisco aims to deliver this program to students in more than 70 locations across the country, Longo said. “We try to have some type of representation in all 50 states. Ideally, in most of the sites, the students come on to a Cisco campus for this type of event. In some cases, we may not have a major office in a particular state, but what we do is partner with our field based in that state to actually do it at a either a customer site or an academy site and bring the resources to them.” He added that the Networking Academy also had already run some well-received virtual field trips – sort of e-exploration events – for students who did not have access to a Cisco office, and would offer more in the future.
In addition, Groundhog Job Shadow Day serves as an opportunity to promote development of IT skills and knowledge to the students. “We certainly talk about certifications,” Longo said. “Individuals, especially systems engineers, will talk about the tracks that they took to get to where they are. We also talk about education. We think certification and education are a really good combination for them to consider.”
These events also are enjoyable for Cisco employees, who are able to discuss their job roles and career paths with individuals who could be future co-workers and colleagues. “It’s a great way to get our employees and our senior managers engaged and in front of our academy students,” Longo said. “Last year, we had about 1,000 students and about 400 Cisco volunteers participate. That’s kind of our minimum benchmark we would like to achieve again this year.”
Cisco employees devote a substantial amount of their free time to Groundhog Job Shadow Day activities, and for each employee hour that is volunteered, the company will provide a matching donation to Junior Achievement for the national job shadow day program. Also, the Dept. of Labor has recognized Cisco as a Gold Partner for the last two years due to its Job Shadow Day efforts.
For more information, see http://www.cisco.com/go/netacad.