Are you looking for a new career but unclear on the direction you would like to go? Are you wanting to pursue a post-secondary education but not sure what career appeals to you? Job shadowing can be an excellent way to learn about a professional’s day-to-day responsibilities and decide whether their career appeals to you and aligns with your values and beliefs. It can also provide valuable opportunities to network with professionals in your chosen field.
A job shadowing experience allows you to explore a specific career of interest by observing an employee perform their work duties at their place of employment. The experience should provide realistic career information that will help you in making a career choice.
Job shadowing can provide enough information about the new and different job to alleviate fear of the unknown and to get a bigger picture of most of the requirements of the position. For example, I had a client who loved to spend time with seniors; she enjoyed listening to their stories and asking questions, organizing arts and crafts and helping them with chores. She was positive that being a Health Care Aide would be the perfect position for her! She met with a Health Care Aide at a senior’s facility, shadowed her for the day and realized that there were some aspects of the job she wasn’t sure she could do. One day of job shadowing helped with her career decision. This client is still in the helping field but in a different position.
Tips for a Successful Experience
Before you arrive for your job-shadowing experience, be clear on all the details. Be sure to confirm time to arrive, location, what to wear and anything else you may need to bring.
Do your research! Know as much about the company as possible. Jot down some notes and questions to ask. This will create a good impression, it will show initiative and help you learn more from the experience. At the end of the day shake hands, maintain eye contact, thank every person for their time and ask for their business cards. Sending them a personal thank you or email after you’re done shadowing can make a strong final impression.
You might have had a great job shadowing experience but realized that this is not the career for you. Stay positive and professional! You have made some great contacts.