Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2019

VirtualJobShadow

Resource-filled career and college planning site can feel overwhelming

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • College & Career Prep
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
6–12
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Pros: Different reporting features enable teachers to keep track of student engagement, progress, and potential college and career pathways.

Cons: There's a lot going on, and the busy interface might intimidate or distract students.

Bottom Line: Teachers and students willing to invest some time will find tons of resources in this one-stop shop for nearly all things career-, college-, and interest-related.

It's probably best to start students off with brainstorming some goals, interests, and values before diving into one or more of the assessments available through VirtualJobShadow. Then, when students have identified some areas they'd like to pursue, guide them through curating a video playlist to learn some of the nuances of specific jobs and personality traits of people who perform them. Equipped with some idea of which courses of study might be best for them, students can start looking for colleges or trade schools that offer these programs, comparing size, location, cost, and scholarship opportunities. It's really easy to go down rabbit holes while looking for information. For this reason, it's probably best to gradually introduce the site's different features over time and get kids comfortable with the long-term planning they'll need to do in order to launch themselves successfully into the post-secondary world.

The site's usefulness extends past high school: Students already in college can explore internship opportunities and search for jobs using the platform, gathering resources in one place. Once they've identified potential matches, the resume-building tool can get them on the path to marketing their skills and accomplishments to potential employers.

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VirtualJobShadow is an expansive website that helps students navigate the college and career process, from start to finish. Teachers can assign pre-created or from-scratch activities for students to complete in order and give grades if they choose. Whether they're trying to help students identify interests, target colleges, work on resume building, or search for internships or jobs, teachers are sure to find support for kids here. The site's rich offerings include goal-setting tools, interest inventories, videos of people who work in different industries and careers, a resume builder, and lots of additional resources students can take advantage of as they slog through the process of figuring out what they want to be when they grow up.

Navigating VirtualJobShadow's complexities will take some guidance, but if it's done well, teachers can get students thinking outside the box about future plans and perhaps make their high school experience feel more relevant. The diversity of fields covered is solid and is sure to help kids consider fields they otherwise might not know about, such as agricultural science, welding, volcanology, or skydiving instruction. It might surprise students to learn about lucrative opportunities available with differing levels of education and skills. Aside from navigating the college and career process, the site has some other helpful resources that help kids identify careers aligned with their interests and values, teach them the value of setting short- and long-term goals, and help them write their first resume.

Because of the heavy reliance on video and the text-heavy platform, students might disengage if they feel overloaded with information. More interactive or simulation components might bring up the level of engagement here. For instance, if students could virtually perform some of the tasks required for certain jobs, they might get a better idea if a particular field is worth pursuing. This, along with the site's plethora of resources, might help students get a feel for how they want to spend their post-high school or college years.

 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

There's sure to be something to spark interest and motivate reluctant students to start thinking about the future, though it could be more interactive.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Depending on how much students invest in the site, there's real potential for return on investment in terms of scholarships, internships, job opportunities, and more.
 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Interest-driven learning is a natural way to differentiate. Students in need of additional support can take advantage of available tutorials and audio recordings. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

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