Have you ever wondered what a video game designer does all day? What about a financial planner, or a social worker, or a chemist? As you explore different career paths and reflect on the kinds of jobs you might be interested in, it can be hard to feel as if you truly know what a day-in-the-life of a certain professional looks like. Of course, there are videos and websites to help you learn more about the wide variety of career options that exist. However, nothing quite replaces the value of experiencing these options firsthand.
One of the most meaningful ways to do this is through a job shadow. A job shadow is an opportunity to follow an experienced professional through a day in their working life and learn what the job is all about.
Here are just a few of the benefits to job shadowing.
Low Time Commitment: Most job shadow opportunities are short-term commitments – usually a half day or a full day. It is just enough time to take an office tour, sit in on a couple meetings, participate in a group discussion, and/or share a meal with employees. There is a large amount of detailed information you can gather from this type of experience, all with only needing to take off one day of work or classes.
Fast-Paced Learning: Because there can be a lot of activity packed into a job shadow opportunity, you will be able to quickly learn about the culture and office environment of a company in addition to seeing firsthand what employees with different job titles do. While these kinds of observations can also be made through part-time employment and internship roles, a job shadow significantly shortens the amount of time that a job seeker as well as employer needs to dedicate to the experience.
Perfect for Exploration: For those of you who are confident in the career direction you’re headed, you might want to dive deep into exploring a specific role or company, making an internship a good use of your time. On the other hand, if you are a bit less certain about your career goals, it may be more helpful to skim the surface of multiple roles at multiple companies, making 6-7 job shadows a better use of your time. In addition to having more data to compare, you may also have more of a diversity of professional connections to add to your network.
Networking Options: While internship programs are widely recognized as excellent ways for employers to identify and grow new talent, some companies do not yet have the ability to offer these programs. As such, a job shadow can be the best way for someone to, quite literally, get their foot in the door.
If you have questions about how to find job shadow opportunities, or about whether they are the best fit for the kind of career exploration you want to do, we suggest you start with research. Check out Handshake to find organizations that match your professional aspirations. You can find lots of info on LinkedIn as well, including current interns and employees at the organization you may already know! And of course, the CCD can help too. Sign up for a career workshop to learn about reaching out to organizations and much more.