Job Shadowing 101: Get the Most from Your Experience
High school guidance counselors, parents and college career services offices often advise you to do a job shadow if you have an idea what college major you want to pursue or if you’re trying to decide on a major.
A job shadowing experience can give you a taste of what a job in a particular field would be like each day. You might learn you love it or hate it, but either way you’ll learn more about yourself and what you want to do with your life.
Here are a few tips for making the most of your job shadow experience:
Be on time—or early.
This is essential in making a good first impression, and in making sure you get to do and see all the things your job shadow host has planned for you. It may take time to find a parking spot and find your job shadow host’s office, so plan to arrive early.
Dress to impress.
Wear professional business attire. See pictures and tips on professional dress from various college career centers on Pinterest.
Put away your smartphone.
It’s difficult to be fully immersed in a job shadow experience or to be fully observant of your job shadow host when you’re tapping on your smartphone. Keep your phone in your pocket or in your purse, and turn the ringer to silent.
Take a notepad and pen to take notes on answers to your questions, or to jot down questions as they come up (like if you’re sitting in on a meeting of executives) so you can ask your job shadow host at a more appropriate time (like after the meeting is done). The University of New Hampshire University Advising and Career Center recommends doing some research on the company and industry prior to your job shadow. This will allow you to ask better questions during your job shadow day.
While you want to ask your job shadow host questions, don’t pepper him or her with so many questions he/she can’t get any work done. Also, be courteous of others you meet in the workplace and shake hands with others when you’re introduced.
Do people sit at their desks all day? Are there constant interruptions throughout the day? What technology (old or new, types of software, etc.) is in the office? How are people dressed—formal or casual? Do people take a lunch break? Do people look super stressed or happy? How do employees treat each other?
Send a thank you.
After your job shadow experience is complete, send your job shadow host a thank you e-mail the same day or next day. To get his/her e-mail address, ask for a business card before you leave the job shadow experience. And be sure to keep the host’s card and contact info—you never know when it could come in handy later in your college life or career.