As a child, you must have wondered if you could relive someone else’s life, or foresee what it feels like to be in a particular career. While a television series like ‘A day in the life’ may give you a sneak peek into the lives of some professionals, there’s nothing like being able to experience that first-hand. Job shadowing is a great way to understand what a particular career entails and helps you to gain optimum knowledge about your chosen career.
What is job shadowing?
Practical learning beyond the classroom is the way forward in every career journey. A hands-on learning experience helps one get an in-depth understanding of a professional environment and analyze career progression. Job shadowing is a useful technique where a student or job seeker observes a professional at work. As the name suggests, you act like a ‘shadow’ of the professional and follow them around. The process helps you discover the nuances of the desired career and helps you envision how day-to-day activities in a particular career would pan out.
Importance of job shadowing
When you start following a professional closely, you get first-hand experience in how your chosen career would be like in real-life. Reading about a career and taking up a relevant vocational course may provide necessary knowledge; however, real-time professional experience gives an accurate perception of the desired job. There are numerous perks when thinking about the job shadowing process.
- Discover your passion
Deciding on a suitable career is not a cakewalk. It’s essential to know about one’s interests, passion, and major sources of motivation. Job shadowing helps to understand the appropriate skills required for the position and whether they correspond with your capabilities and skill set. Even if the position doesn’t interest you after close observation, shadowing will help in identifying your passion and core career choices.
One quality every employer looks for in an employee is a keen interest in the position. Job shadowing shows how committed you are in finding a job that matches your abilities. An individual who has job shadowing on their resume is identified as someone who cares about their career. The process also helps to better prepare for job interviews, as you get a clear picture of the professional environment, in addition to what employers are looking for. Shadowing is akin to on-the-job training, even before attending an interview.
- Learn about work culture
Having knowledge about the work culture of the chosen field helps you to get an idea of what to expect. Job shadowing provides an inside view of the organizational structure, daily routine, opportunities, and challenges of the job. Like an inquisitive kid, you can ask all sorts of questions of professionals who work in that organization, thereby gaining a real-life snippet of the industry through those questions.
- Expand your network
A huge part of professional life is making the right connections and building a professional network. Job shadowing is a great way to build connections in the industry you wish to work. A single recommendation can boost your chances of being recruited by your desired company. Having new contacts not only aids in making meaningful connections, but it also helps to open doors to new opportunities.
- Envision the future
As kids, our choices and interests are majorly influenced by our surroundings. Any new show about doctors makes us want to be a doctor; a high-speed racing movie may shift our leanings toward becoming a racer, and so on. However, the reality is far from the illusion depicted on television and in the movies. Job shadowing gives you a golden opportunity to explore real-life challenges, and industry-specific activities, and provides you with a slice-of-life experience of how your career choice will actually pan out to be.
How can you shadow a professional?
To be considered as a job shadowing candidate, you need to first submit a formal application and get your request approved by the professional you wish to follow. But it begs another important question – how do you reach out to someone? Reaching out to professionals in your chosen career can appear daunting in the beginning. In order to identify the most suitable individual to follow and observe, reach out to local representatives of your area who can connect you with professionals. Many professional groups and members of that industry like to connect with young minds to bring creativity and a new dimension into their workforce. Taking professional advice from career counsellors, teachers and mentors is a great way to go about it.
Preparing for a job shadowing program
- Coordinate your schedule and company details
Miscommunication gives a poor impression regarding your work ethic and cultural values. Before selecting a job shadowing program, be clear about the organization’s work ethic and details like location, dress code, duration, and timing of the program. Find out if the organization has a dress code or any other mandates. Some organizations prefer formal wear, whereas others are comfortable with casual clothing.
- Undertake proper research
Researching about the company helps you understand the background, work-related events, and the experience of the professional you wish to shadow. Visit the company’s website and social media handles to learn more about their work, products and services. Gathering information about the company brings confidence and helps you better prepare for the role.
- Have a set of questions
A major benefit of job shadowing is an opportunity to get your doubts solved directly by the professional you are following. Prepare an elevator pitch of 30 seconds to talk about your own career goals. Make a list of questions you wish to ask the shadow host, such as why you are interested in working in the specific career field. You should also prepare answers for the questions you may be asked regarding your career aspirations.
- Take Notes
During the shadowing experience, you will gain invaluable learning. Always keep a notepad handy and jot down important pointers for future reference. Get into the habit of taking notes. Furthermore, list out questions that keep popping up in your head every now and then. Note keeping is an essential habit that shows your focus and acute observation skills.
Shadowing is not just for professionals, or people beginning their career journeys. It is a useful tool, even for students, to gain useful experience and to understand whether a particular career is meant for you or not. The ultimate objective of job shadowing isn’t to become an expert in the career field you have shadowed; rather it is to dive deep into the work culture, and the opportunity to gain priceless insight into various career pathways.
So, the question is, will shadowing Jeff Bezos help you become the richest person in the world? Well, maybe! It would surely be worth a try.
To know more, visit LaunchMyCareer.