Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is a unique opportunity offered to qualified students and trainees.

From delving into a career path in which you are interested to discovering your duties as an employee, job shadowing provides you with ample occasions to enhance your knowledge and develop essential skills. You should understand what job shadowing is and how to find the best shadowing opportunities prior to accepting other job training options.

What is job shadowing?

In short, job shadowing is the act of observing an experienced worker as he or she is working. Usually, you will be working alongside the employee, taking notes and asking questions when appropriate. Consequently, it is a great tool for determining your work preferences and improving your networking skills by adding skilled workers to your list contacts. However, receiving hands-on instruction from the employees is rare, and some companies may advise you to stay away from certain areas or staff to ensure your safety and the comfort of the other workers. Regardless, job shadowing is an important training method you should consider utilizing, especially if you are pursuing a new career.

Job shadowing is an activity that may be performed by trainees of all ages and for many reasons. A list of the most common reasons why you may choose to participate in job shadowing is provided below:

  • You are currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution and are trying to decide on a career.
  • Your present employment is no longer desirable, but you are unsure what new employment you are seeking.
  • You have an interest in a career or a job field and want to learn more about it.
  • You want to see a potential workplace because you plan apply to work there.

Shadowing can range from simple interactions with individual employees to longer conversations with multiple staff members. Therefore, this type of training may include a one-time visit, recurring visits or an extended visit, depending on the job, availability of the employees involved and the shadowing program. However, most shadowing is a short-term commitment, lasting only a few hours or a day. This, traditionally brie, introduction into a field of your choosing is designed to help you succeed in your professional career in several ways.

While all job shadowing experiences may vary, most have similar components. A standard job shadowing experience might consist of the following activities:

  • Taking a tour of the workplace
  • Meeting relevant employees
  • Sitting in on typical meetings, calls or appointments
  • Following the employees as they complete their work
  • Assisting with some daily tasks, such as filing paperwork
  • Inquiring about regular responsibilities within the company

Job shadowing may also entail off-the-clock activities, such as taking lunch breaks and having general conversations about your background. Hopefully, after job shadowing, you will have a greater understanding of the job and how much it interests you. The best hosts for job shadowing are often ones who will emphasize both the advantages and disadvantages of a job to give you a complete picture of the position.

Why Job Shadowing is Important

Often, employees accept jobs about which they understand little. To prevent this from continuing, job shadowing emerged. Although participating in job shadowing does not mean you automatically possess comprehensive knowledge of a field, it can affect your ability to obtain future jobs, to understand a field of study and to create a reliable network.

Like a job interview, shadowing revolves around impressions and communication. Once you obtain a job shadowing opportunity, you are encouraged to do your research into the company and the position you will be observing. Impressing the employees who allow you to observe them and their work may help you in the future. For instance, if your ideal job is posted and you have a good relationship with the professionals you shadowed, you may be able to request recommendation letters from them. In some of the best instances, the connections you make while shadowing can grant you official interviews for amazing jobs.

Not only are you learning skills that apply a specific company when you job shadow, but you can also learn skills that translate to other positions. Even if you are sure you would like to work with a company, job shadowing is still useful. In fact, job shadowing is a training tool some employers use to train employees within their own company, because it can enable you to acquire skills via visual learning and observation.

Shadowing professionals in certain fields can also give students the benefit of exploring alternative job options. Due to the minimal commitment involved in job shadowing compared to other job training, such as interning and apprenticing, job shadowing presents individuals with the opportunity to discover different career paths before making longer-term decisions.

How to Find Job Shadowing Opportunities

You can find a job shadow host in a few ways. A list of the methods you may use to locate job shadowing opportunities is available here:

  • Use your campus career center or alumni office to search for job shadowing if you are enrolled in a post-secondary institution.
  • Contact companies about job shadowing opportunities.
  • Ask your academic adviser at your high school about job shadowing opportunities.

Many trainees who are job shadowing have also asked employees directly to gauge their interest in being a host, and many employees may be willing to work with you. Do not hesitate to reach out to companies and employers if you want to work with them. You should start by contacting companies and employees that you are familiar with or may know personally as they are more likely to approve job shadowing requests.

Once you have established your interest in job by either calling or emailing the company you are interested in getting to know better, you may begin planning your visit. In doing so, you should be prepared to answer questions regarding your availability, your professional interests and your background in the field. When arriving to job shadow, you should be dressed appropriately, act politely and maintain a professional composure throughout the duration of the experience.

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