Workforce of the Future: Preparing Future Leaders through Job Shadowing

ARTICLE | Jun 16, 2016

June's Workforce Wednesday Topic

Job Shadowing, as explained by, is an opportunity for students to spend a day learning about a specific job by going over the role with a competent employee. Of course, job shadowing can be done by anybody, not just students. In fact, it has become an essential training component for many local government professionals looking to advance their careers, yet many local governments also reach into schools and universities to train students, aimed at inspiring and preparing the future local government workforce. Moreover, job shadowing has become an essential part of the immersive and educational experience for Alliance Management Interns, first-year MPA students with the School of Public Affairs’ Marvin Andrews program at Arizona State University. Below is the written experience of one our Management Interns, Dorian Sanchez, recounting her day shadowing Assistant to the Town Manager of Gilbert, AZ, Mary Vinzant.

A Day of Job Shadowing

Mary Vinzant is the Assistant to the Town Manager in Gilbert, Arizona. Her job duties include:  project management; research, analysis and reporting; preparation and presentation of complex information to diverse audiences; preparing and analyzing budgets and evaluating program efficiency and effectiveness, specifically through performance benchmarking and metrics; development, interpretation and consistent application of policy; and effectively managing work teams and staff with divergent perspectives.

When discussing job shadowing and the importance of it, Mary agrees that job shadowing is valuable for anyone interested in learning more about a particular position. My experience shadowing Mary was very insightful. I was able to learn about her everyday operations. From benchmarking reports in the Town of Gilbert to behavior assessment’s the town uses to understand employee personalities.  I learned a little bit of everything. The DISC personality assessment aims to improve communication and people skills in a team setting, thus creating productivity.  The key to business interaction is to treat people the way they want to be treated

D-I-S-C- Snapshot

  • D-Dominant, Driver, Determined
  • I- Influencing, Inspiring, Impulsive
  • C- Compliant, Correct, Creative
  • S- Steady, Supportive, Stable

How are benchmarks used?

Through the benchmarking process, staff will gauge performance and demonstrate their commitment to highly efficient operations and delivering superior results. Benchmarking provides feedback and information for continues improvement, while simultaneously shaping the culture of the organization.

Overall, Mary’s key piece of advice is on attitude. She states that having a positive attitude goes a long way. And that working in local government organizations is all about helping your organization reach its own goals.

Work Life Balance

We had a nice discussion on work-life balance and the importance of setting boundaries for oneself. Often times, we are boggled down by work and home responsibilities that it is very easy to take stress and work home. So, how do we deal with creating balance in our lives? Find what works for you. If family is an important aspect of your life find time to spend time with them.

Personal Development

Mary and I touched on the ICMA Core Practices for Effective Leadership and among one of the most important for Mary is personal development. Personal development can be an all aspects of an individual’s life. Whether it focuses on health, travel aspirations, and even reading a book. Mary emphasized the importance of being a learner everywhere one goes. I take this as a very valuable piece of advice because I very much enjoy learning from people’s stories and experiences.

Overall, my experience job shadowing in the Town of Gilbert was a great one. I learned the value of relationship building and personal growth, I would encourage any student to reach out to a local government official and learn about the inner workings of local government.


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