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Take Your Coworker to Work: TS Launches an Internal Job Shadowing Program

By Chelsea Warren

Somewhere in-between bring your child to work day and my first job, I stopped job shadowing. Contrary to the millennial narrative, I don’t think I “know it all,” but somewhere, in the day-to-day emails, meetings, and project work, I stopped asking why and how things work. But then, Technology Services (TS) launched an internal job shadowing program. And with it, the opportunity to learn the ins and out of a coworker’s job and a deeper understanding and respect for that person and their role in the organization.

Spurred out of an employee-led Employee Engagement initiative, the main goals of the TS job shadowing program are to:

  • Foster career growth (employees are happier when they know they have professional/personal growth opportunities);
  • Create and foster bonds between teams (plus, eliminate stereotype
    s that employees might have of each other or other teams); and
  • Allow employees to see how TS works together to reach our vision of becoming the nation’s model for government technology (aka we’re all in this together!).

So far, the program has been a huge success, with 10 percent of the department participating since its launch in September 2017.

“We launched this program because we could see that there was a need for a process that would allow employees to learn more about TS, bridge teams together, and encourage people to consider career options within TS,” said Lacey Kaufman, systems analyst and one of the founders of the program.  “The employees we have are one of our biggest assets, so we knew we needed to find a way to encourage people to be curious about other groups in TS, and hopefully, find career avenues within the department instead of losing them to outside opportunities.”

In technology, you quickly become an expert in your discipline,” Scott Cardenas, CIO for the city of Denver, commented. “Our job shadowing program allows employees to get outside their technology niche and learn from each another. This makes the entire workplace a more collaborative, innovative place.” This was precisely the goal of Tricia Scherer, IT governance manager, going into her two-hour job shadow session. “I wanted to gain a better understanding of what the Enterprise Architecture (EA) team does and how the Information Security team can more effectively work with them.”

Emily Silverman, who is building up Denver Smart City, explained, “this experience confirmed I work with amazing, caring, committed people. I was able to learn there are already great resources the Project Management Office has already built and are available for anybody to use on SharePoint.”

For Amber Escobedo, senior IT systems analyst, the experience changed her career goals.

“I want to touch and experience every aspect of our business. [After my job shadow experience], I asked to join the Architecture Review Board (ARB) so I could try to absorb more knowledge about TS’ future projects and opportunities. This experience made me realize how important it is to get out of our daily routines and communicate with each other. We are all touching the same projects at one point or another in the process. It is important to understand what other teams do, as well as the challenges and successes they face, so we can better form the ultimate synergy.”

For me, I think it’s time to rekindle my love of learning and shadow Desktop Support so I can investigate the innards of my computer, a developer so I can learn how to code beyond my basic MySpace HTML skills, or our CIO to see if my request to have an office cat has gotten approved yet.