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Finding the right career for you can be hard. College offers so many opportunities with a wide variety of degree and certificate programs. But how do you know if a career is right for you? What if you are considering switching careers, but want some practical information before biting the bullet? You might want to consider job shadowing.
What Is Job Shadowing?
Job shadowing is a great way to explore different careers before committing to a specific college program or industry. It provides you with a real chance to see what your life might be like on a day-to-day basis by observing, or shadowing, a career professional in their daily work routine. Job shadowing is also a great way to meet veterans in your desired field.
How Do I Job Shadow?
If you have already started your degree program, consider reaching out to your instructors or professors to see if they have any contacts in the field. It’s nice to have a good recommendation from someone in academia. For example, if you are completing a medical assistant program, reach out to those in the college program to find a local clinic where you might be able to job shadow.
If you have not yet committed to a college major, feel free to reach out to professionals directly. Just be sure to make your intentions clear. If you aren’t comfortable approaching an organization directly, contact your local college career center to see what resources they have available for new and potential students.
Now That I’ve Set Up My Job Shadow, What Do I Do?
- Always call and confirm with the organization. Make sure to be polite and courteous. Offer to reschedule if things seem chaotic.
- Research the company beforehand. Visit their website. Talk to other people who have done a similar job shadow if possible.
- Research the appropriate dress. Are you visiting a high-powered corporate office, a casual animal shelter, or a medical office? Make sure to pick out an outfit that is comfortable and work-appropriate.
What Should I Do During My Job Shadow?
The key to making the most of your job shadowing experience is to ask questions. Whoever you are shadowing is so used to doing their job, that they might forget some key aspects of the workplace. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Some questions you could ask include:
- What do you like about your job?
- What do you hate?
- Why did you decide to enter this field?
- What kind of personality traits and skills does someone need to enter this field?
- What advice would you give rookies just starting their career?
What Do I Do After I’m Done Job Shadowing?
Make sure to maintain a good relationship with the organization where you job shadowed. Consider following up with a proper thank you letter or card. The person you shadowed went out of his or her way to help you, so it’s important to remember that. If after job shadowing you’ve decided that you have found your desired career, think about keeping in touch and following up regarding internship and job possibilities. For specialized careers that require specific vocational training, like a lot of the health care programs do, shadowing a professional already immersed in the field can be a great way to decide if you want to start the enrollment process.