The Importance of Student Shadowing – a student’s perspective

At the advent of the new year,  a group of Cal Bears and I were given the amazing opportunity to shadow a fellow Cal alumnus at Box HQ in Redwood City, CA. We ranged from freshman to super-senior, Computer Science to Rhetoric, I-bankers to 3D Modelers, but I believe we were synonymous in our desire to learn and experience the tech culture and work life.

So here’s the big question . . . so what? My point is shadowing opportunities such as UC Berkeley’s Externship Program should be more frequent and provided at all levels of University education because industry knowledge is what a majority of students seek. However, this is the responsibility of both students and professionals. So here are the two takeaways:

It is the people who defined Box.
On our tour around the campus, I asked why there was hard alcohol out for grabs in the lounge area.  The guide replied, “Box also follows the Golden Rule, treat your people how they want to be treated”. Life-changing. My mentor was a Business Development Manager (shout out to Daryn!) and I was amazed at her diligence in action, but kindness in expression. She took us through all her meetings while taking the time to explain buzzwords like “public cloud” regardless of who was in the room. Last but definitely not least, I knew our coordinator Lindsay was the background worker making sure we could do everything.

Shadowing opportunities open the door, but it is up to the individual to walk through it.
I was provided exposure from topics such as B2B partner relationships and  sales development at the enterprise level. At lunch, I learned about how to turn negotiation for wage and benefits into a conversation about personal and company valuations.  If I didn’t attempt to incorporate these lessons and knowledge in to my habitual actions, it would be wasteful and shameful. So here’s a quick lesson:

Try to connect all dots in 4 consecutive lines. You may not lift your pencil off the paper








Negotiating about wages and benefits often involves a lot of questions (What am I worth, Am I being paid equally, etc.) and the solution to this white space is to always open up the conversation and talk about things outside the box (If I can’t be paid equally, what other opportunities and benefits can I receive or provide?)


I want to close with UC Berkeley’s motto is fiat lux, which translates from Latin to “let there be light”.  I’m not sure if you can tell from the smile on our faces at the first picture or the true generosity and kindness of UC Berkeley’s Career Center or the mentors at Box willing to host us – but there was a light. As a student and upcoming professional, I aim to expand the range of shadowing and training experiences for students at wherever I end up working.

Thanks for reading!
– Winson

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