By Alexis Schulz
During J-term and summer sessions, Rider’s Shadow Experience Program allows students the opportunity to connect classroom learning to a real professional environment.
Terri Marriott, director of student academic services for liberal arts and sciences, said this program allows students the opportunity to take with them what they learn in the classroom, and apply it in real life working situations.
“The program is for every member of the Rider community,” said Marriott. “Any student from any school at Rider who meets the criteria is eligible.”
Students who participate in the one credit course select a participating Rider alumnus to shadow and then are required to take a three-hour pre-experience seminar online, log 20 to 25 hours of shadowing, keep a journal and attend a three-hour post-experience seminar online.
“The reason why this program is held during J-term and summer is because it allows students from other areas to actually be in the course at home with an alumnus or community business leader in their area,” said Marriott.
The program started two years ago and has gained recognition between alumni and students. This past summer session, Mary Jo Abbondanza, a member of Rider’s Liberal Arts Advisory Board, came and spoke to students during the final seminar of the class in conjunction with their mentoring experiences throughout the semester.
“When the idea of speaking to the class came up I thought Mary Jo would be a perfect mentor for the students in the shadow program,” said Marriott. “She is involved with the actual interview process of a lot of candidates, so I thought she would be excellent to come in and talk to the students about what to do and what not to do during an interview and how to prepare.”
Abbondanza said when speaking to the students about the importance of a first impression during an interview she urged them to be prepared.
“I talked about what to wear during an interview, about body language and what to bring with you,” said Abbondanza. “First impressions are very important, and in order to distinguish yourself you have to put emphasis in all the right places.”
Marriott said the idea of having a Rider alumnus come to speak to students separately from the student’s own shadow experience was a brand-new idea for this past semester.
“It turned out to be such a good thing,” said Marriott. “Students really enjoyed it and excellent feedback was given, so this practice will continue for the upcoming semester.”
The Shadow Experience Program according to Marriott is a great opportunity for all Rider students and alumni to connect and share with one another. The students are offered an opportunity to collaborate with a mentor who is already in the line of work the student would like to pursue, so the student is able to see what that job entails before he or she becomes immersed in it.
“There is no better way to learn than having a mentor that’s already been there and done that,” said Marriott. “These mentors have been involved in the process that students will be going through once they graduate, and it’s a chance for students to begin their networking process.”