Job shadowing to learn how people work

Have you heard of job shadowing? Job shadowing involves shadowing experienced professionals to learn more about their jobs.  When Colruyt Group IT and Vrije Universiteit Brussel gave PhD student Peter this opportunity, he grabbed it with both hands.  The job shadowing initiative launched by the Flemish Interuniversity Council allowed him to follow the activities and operations at Colruyt Group IT for two days through the eyes of our IT project managers Jochem and Anindya. Here’s PhD student Peter’s account of two instructive days.

PhD-student Peter aan het woord

PhD student Peter shares his thoughts

Peter: “I think retail is a fascinating sector where a lot is happening.  Following Jochem and Anindya for a day gave me a better idea of what a typical day at Colruyt Group IT looks like.  Initially, I thought a big company such as Colruyt would have a whole host of procedures.  There are procedures of course, but there's also a lot of room for initiative and an open culture to make things happen.

“In short: a successful introduction to the company and the jobs.  The days were busy and the pace was high but I could tell there was a pleasant atmosphere. I could see myself working for Colruyt Group and after this job shadowing experience it's definitely a contender.”

Day 1 with Jochem Peter and Jochem in one of their meetings.

Day 1 with Jochem

Peter: “IT project manager Jochem let me shadow him for a whole day of meetings with different stakeholders.  It was a lot to take in but it was highly instructive. I noticed that Jochem values efficient meetings with the right people.”

Jochem: “I showed Peter how I work: transparently and efficiently. I was very surprised at how well prepared Peter was and how quickly he was able to process things, a real sponge.  You can sense his potential and it's nice to feel that he likes the way we work.”

Day 2 with Anindya

Peter: “When I shadowed Anindya we focused more on specific projects.  I was given an insight into all the systems they use and the philosophy behind certain choices.  This meant the interaction with Anindya showed a very different side of the job than with Jochem.  Experiencing these two sides over a two-day period was very instructive and I can only recommend it to other PhD students.”

Day 2 with Anindya Peter and Anindya focus on one project.
Peter, PhD student at VUB
“There seems to be a lot of room for initiative and an open culture to make things happen.”