Job Shadowing: How does it Work?

Although it is often overlooked, job shadowing may be the best way to build good connections with prospective employers. Job shadowing is a tool that gives you the opportunity to meet with employees to learn about a particular field. Typically, you are paired with one of the professionals in the field and are allowed to follow them around for a day to learn the responsibilities, the day-to-day work, and the benefits and disadvantages of working in that particular field from people who are already working there. I like to think of it as if the Husky for a Day Program you did when you were in the admissions process for the career field of your choice.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can do more than just learn about the job, but you can also connect with employers for future job opportunities. When shadowing an employee, take the time to talk to as many different people as you can. Whether from the cubicles to the boss’s office, you can build wonderful contacts with people in that company. That way, when it comes time to apply for job, they already have you on their radar. Ask as many questions as you can, exchange contact information so that you may keep in touch with them long term, and always remember to follow up with both the employee you are shadowing and anybody else that assists you on your day with a thank you note and any other questions that you may think of after the experience. The more you make a lasting effect on that company, the better chance for you to receive a job there in the future.

So where do you look for these shadowing opportunities? About.com Careers offers a few suggestions (Source: http://internships.about.com/od/internships101/a/whatisjobshadowing.htm): Check online and through services like here at the Center for Career Development for companies that offer student shadowing programs. Look for any family or friends you already know that work in a particular field of interest, that way you can get information from people that know you the best. Finally, do not be afraid to contact any companies close to you to see if they are willing to allow you to walk in and shadow an employee for a day, even if a company does not have an actual shadowing program.

Remember, the more connections you make with people in the workforce, the more likely you are to get a job you are happy with when you get out of college. With the help of job shadowing, you can do just that.