What is it?
Job shadowing provides an opportunity to spend a day or half day engaged in a career in which a student may be interested. Students have opportunities to observe and speak with professionals on the job, learn the day-to-day activities of the position, the employment outlook, related fields and the effect of the job on one’s personal life. Students who participate in shadowing also gain valuable professional contacts and observe how what they learn in school relates to the workplace. Additionally, they are able to reflect on the the educational and personal requirements necessary to succeed in the field by asking specific questions relating to their college and job choices.
Where do I find opportunities?
Students should first research career interests and then ask family, friends, teachers, counselors, or other community contacts for names of people working in that field. After contacting a person and scheduling a workplace visit, the student should be prepared with a list of questions to ask about the job.
Some important questions to ask may include:
What are the duties of the occupation? Working hours and conditions? Salary and benefits?
What educational preparation is expected, what personal qualities are important in this occupation, and how does this occupation affect one’s personal life?
What kind of jobs could a student do to prepare for this career?
What are the rewards and drawbacks of this occupation and how does society benefit?
How will technology affect this occupation and are there opportunities for travel?
During the Shadowing Experience
Students should take notes while shadowing and ask for business cards whenever possible. In return, students should consider preparing a resume to leave with the mentor, leaving a positive impression. Students should avoid being late and dress appropriately! (Ask what to wear ahead of time, if unsure.) Be considerate and polite; shake hands, speak clearly, and look people in the eye.
After the Shadowing Experience
It is considerate and polite to send a thank-you note after your shadow day. A positive career shadowing experience could lead a student to secure a more in-depth internship or job situation in the career area.