Choose Your Major/Career

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing offers a "quick view" into the world of work, where students get to observe first-hand about their career of choice. Job shadowing could be considered an expanded form of an informational interview. Where an informational interview will typically last about one hour, job shadowing can be anywhere from a few hours, to a day, to a week, depending on what can be mutually agreed upon by the person you are observing.

If you are interested in job shadowing, check with your department to see if any shadowing networks have been set up or contact your Career Center liaison.

Setting Up a Job Shadowing Experience

  • The beauty of job shadowing is you can shadow a friend of the family or really step out and contact someone new.
  • Select someone with the same type of job you aspire to have or one you would like to learn more about.
  • A simple email, letter, or phone call is all you need to get the ball rolling.
  • Schedule your shadowing experience several weeks in advance.
  • Be prepared to be flexible and work into their schedule.

Doing Your Homework

  • Research the company and occupation you are shadowing. This may also give you some ideas for possible questions to ask.
  • Dress professionally. That doesn't necessarily mean a business suit, however it does mean no jeans or flip flops. This is your first impression...so make it count.
  • Arrive early. Be polite and enthusiastic. Observe everything you can from technology used in the job to the professional's workspace. What's the culture like? How do employees interact with each other? Can you see yourself working in this type of environment?

Afterwards

  • If you've built good rapport with the person you are shadowing, consider asking for a resume critique or interviewing tips.
  • Be sure to get a business card before you leave. Consider this person a member of your professional network and stay in touch.
  • Always send a thank you note, even if you've now decided this occupation isn't for you. The person you shadowed gave you their time and energy, plus it's just common courtesy.
  • Reflect on the experience...the good things, as well as the not-so-good. Be sure to conduct follow-up research on the occupation or search for an all-together different field.