What is job shadowing? As the name implies job shadowing is the process of following, like a shadow, another person in a specific job or career position/field/industry. For someone who is looking to find out about a specific career path, this is an excellent opportunity to see what the job is like over a short period of time. This activity can typically last a few hours, a day, or a week. Job shadowing is encouraged for middle and high-school aged students, as they learn about different career paths. However it is not just for this group, as college students, and people looking to switch careers could find this activity very useful. Job shadowing is also an extension of informational interviewing http://careers.erau.edu/land-offer/interviewing/informational-interviewing/index.html
The obvious advantage of job shadowing is that it allows a person to learn about specific career paths, as mentioned above. Learning about skills needed for specific careers is another advantage of job shadowing. An additional advantage is being able to learn more about a specific company and its culture. This could help determine if this is a company they really want to work for in the future. While this can be hard to determine in a few hours or even days, it is still a good view into possible career fields, which can promote further questions, research, and/or evaluation.
Where should someone start the search for job shadowing opportunities?
- Check the Career Services Office for connections in the career area of interest. Many times they work with alumni in a specific career area of interest as well as companies that typically recruit specific career areas.
- Local companies that offer careers in the area(s) of interest
- If a current student or an alumnus, ask faculty who teach in the areas of interest if they would recommend a contact
- Personal network – people know people in all areas of careers. Don’t underestimate connections!
- Professional organizations could offer excellent connections for job shadowing opportunities – conferences, events, membership directories or other members
For more detailed information regarding Job Shadowing, check out the Quintessential Careers blog, Research Companies and Careers Through Job Shadowing (http://www.quintcareers.com/job_shadowing.html)
Sandi Ohman is the Senior Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She has been with the university for over 9 years and has advised students in most all degree areas while in Career Services. Sandi brings additional experience having worked in the finance industry for over 6 years in her previous career. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida.