How to Job Shadow

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When you job shadow, you step into another person's shoes for a day, week or longer and see what life is like in that career. This is good for high school, college and well beyond. Doing this can give you great insight and direction when it comes to what job would be most fulfilling.

Things You'll Need

  • Contacts
  • Workplace
  • When you choose to job shadow, pick a field and employer that you think would match your current skills and interests. For example, if you want to be a veterinarian, do not just go into a doctor's office and think the experience will be similar. Instead, reach for that dream job and call the local veterinarians and ask them to "shadow for a day." The same goes with any field, as long as confidentiality and privacy practices are followed.

  • Consider signing up for a high school or college career program that ends with an Internship. Though this is unpaid, it is real experience you may not get otherwise. And, you can network while you are there to find out if they would retain you as a paid employee or what similar opportunities are available.

  • If your school offers it, sign up for "job shadow day" in a similar or chosen field. Do not be surprised if you change your mind after an exhausting dose of reality on the job. The job may seem more glamorous and less stressful than it actually is. If so, consider revising your dream job.

  • If you cannot get a job shadow because you do not have connections, consider winning a bid on a silent auction like "cook for a day" or "director for a day." You may be surprised at your boost in confidence, not to mention opening you up to a whole new group of people. Many newspapers, organizations and schools offer these types of opportunities.

  • Volunteer at a place that you think you would like to work or in a similar field. For example, if you wish to work in customer service, volunteer at a phone bank where it is noisy and you could be easily distracted. This will give you a feel as to whether or not you are cut out for this type of work. Try a few different environments just to be sure.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may not be allowed into the same areas as employees, due to laws, regulations and privacy policies.
  • Look the part at your job shadow. Wear whatever attire, uniform or safety gear that the other employees are required to wear.
  • Do not interfere in the work day, but do ask questions whenever the opportunity arises, or keep a list handy when the time is right.
  • Eat lunch or dinner with the other employees, and observe if they appear happy, satisfied, and friendly.

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