Job shadowing is when you spend a day (or part of a day) at work with someone in a career that interests you. You get to observe what people do, ask questions, and maybe even participate in some activities. Job shadowing can give you a preview of a job or career.
You may want to try shadowing several different jobs before choosing a college or career. Or shadow different people with the same job. Often people with the same degree or job title do very different things in their day to day work.
Setting up a job shadow...
Explain who you are and why you're interested in doing a job shadow. Give the person at least two-weeks' notice, and have a calendar handy so you can be sure you are available when they are.
Some questions to ask:
Where will we meet? What time do I need to arrive/leave? Should I bring a lunch? What should I wear? What’s the best way to reach you if something comes up?
Write down the answers. Be sure to get there when you say you will. If something comes up, contact the person you were planning to shadow and let them know you’ll be late or unable to come. Find out where you’ll be during your visit—does the person you’re shadowing work in an office? outdoors? at a construction site? in a manufacturing plant? You’ll need to dress accordingly.
Before you go on a job shadow...
Practice introducing yourself. Remember that first impressions are important.
Think of questions to ask. For example: When did you become interested in the field you are in? How did you learn more about it? Is this a typical day for you? If I wanted to work here, how much schooling would I need?
You’ll get more out of the experience—and may feel more confident—if you have some ideas about what you want to learn during your visit.
When you go...
BE ON TIME! Be courteous and responsible.
Ask questions. Most people appreciate the interest you show in their work and will enjoy sharing what they know with you.
Take something with you to take notes on. Also take emergency contact information with you.
After you've gone on a job shadow, write a Thank You letter! Let your job host know how much you appreciate what they did for you.
A thank you note makes others feel good about their efforts and more willing to respond if you ask for help or information in the future.