The Importance of Job Shadowing at Any Stage of Life

By   |   July 10th, 2015   |   0 Comments

Charleston 2012 SEALAND CHAMPION ShipThree years ago, provided a wonderful opportunity to its employees called “Spend a Day in Ag.” Employees were provided the day off to go and explore the world of agriculture. The goal was for our non-ag employees to learn more about the industry they support day in and day out by job shadowing. For our more experienced ag employees the goal was to learn more about an unfamiliar ag sector or to grow their ag knowledge.


The team did a great job at finding unique opportunities to experience agriculture. Overall, I feel our staff were excited to get out of the office, get our hands dirty (in some cases – not all ag jobs are dirty jobs) and learn something new. I grew up on a family farm and experienced livestock, crops and produce on a first hand basis. Finding something new to learn about seemed difficult, but I knew I wanted to go beyond what was familiar. These thoughts led me to question where all of the ag products go after they are harvested and processed.


My “Day in Ag” coincided with vacationing in Charleston, South Carolina. I scheduled a tour at the Wando Welch Terminal, Charleston’s largest port terminal in terms of volume and physical size. My goal for touring the facility was to learn more about how agricultural products are exported and the roles required for operation.  I learned how the agricultural industry relies heavily on exporting products to overseas markets where the availability of these goods are limited. Meat was one of the largest exports, specifically pork and poultry, shipped to China. My tour guide Blair Boldizar, Public Relations Associate for the South Carolina Ports Authority, pointed out that the shipments also included oddities such as pork bellies and chicken feet. Products not widely popular in the U.S. are shipped overseas to markets with a demand for these specialties. Special refrigeration containers are used to keep products fresh while conventional containers house goods such as grains, grain products, cotton, wood pulp, and foodstuffs.


Charleston 2012 Terminal CranesAfter touring the container yard, I was able to watch a crane load containers onto a ship. This was specifically interesting to me as my guide pointed out that while the crane operators are paid over $100,000 annually, they are also incentivized as to the speed and accuracy of container movement. I also learned about other roles such as longshoremen and stevedores, which work on the terminal loading and unloading containers.


Following the experience, I had an immediate appreciation for the opportunity had offered me. At first, I felt I had little to learn, having an ag background and having worked in agriculture my entire career. However, the experience was very rewarding for three main reasons:


1) Enriching to my job – I actually used what I learned from my tour to better understand the roles and role requirements of port jobs, I actively benchmark in the Compensation Benchmark Review, ag salary survey.


2) Personal growth – Not only was I able to learn something for my job, but I was in an unfamiliar environment actively taking notes and expanding my own concept and understanding of ag exports, global markets and demands.


3) Platform to share – Setting up the tour, traveling around the port with my guides, and meeting employees there provided me a platform to talk about agriculture careers. I was excited to share more about my employer,, and the creative opportunity to get out and learn. I was able to talk about the careers involved from a production basis to supply the products for export.


See what the rest of the crew did for “Spend a Day in Ag” on our Facebook page.

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