What is Job Shadowing?
Job Shadowing is an educational activity in which students spend time learning about a specific job or industry. They interact with professionals on the job while observing actual operations and procedures and gain an understanding of the company’s culture. The primary focus is to explore potential career interests.
Job Shadowing is for observation ONLY! It is an informative opportunity to gain valuable information about potential career paths and fields of study that might be suitable for them to pursue.
Job Shadowing is a great way to align educational and career goals.
As part of the job shadowing experience, students will:
- dress according to the standards of the particular site;
- call the site before the scheduled time if unable to attend on the appointed day;
- arrive at the site at the agreed upon time;
- follow all guidelines and policies of the site;
- complete any school assignments related to the job shadowing experience;
- complete all required paperwork (permission, medical authorizations, etc.).
Career Center's Role
The Career Coach will be responsible for:
- insuring that any job shadowing paperwork required by the employer is completed;
- scheduling students and keeping records of the student names, dates of shadowing, sites and supervisors;
- following up with worksites for feedback on the job shadow;
- monitoring completion of student job shadowing assignment(s);
- being available in emergency situations.
Workplace Supervisor's Role
It is important for the supervisor to understand that job shadowing students are NOT present to work. They are there to observe and ask questions. Upon agreeing to take a job shadowing student, the supervisor will:
- inform the student of any relevant policies or regulations at the worksite;
- answer any relevant questions about the profession or facility;
- direct students to the areas of their career interest;
- arrange for the actual job shadowing experience(s);
- monitor the student and contact the Career Coach should there be any problems.
- Obtain exact directions on where to go, when to arrive and the name of the person who will greet you when you arrive.
- Dress for the job shadowing experience in a professional manner. When scheduling the job shadowing experience, remember to ask the employer if there is a dress code.
- Inform yourself about the career field you are exploring, the organization you will be visiting and the person(s) with whom you will be meeting.
- Prepare a list of questions you want to ask. Include some that you know will be interesting for your workplace supervisor to answer.
- Listen, express your interest, and show enthusiasm and appreciation. Be aware of your nonverbal behavior.
- REMEMBER to thank the worksite supervisor (and worksite coordinator) before you leave the job shadowing experience.
Follow-up Assignments for Students
Examples of assignments students may want to complete as a result of their job shadow:
- written report on a specific career;
- results of worksite supervisor interview, including names and titles within department/floor;
- a journal entry describing the site, the people, the work, and the environment;
- classroom oral presentation or poster presentation on careers represented at the job shadowing site.
- appointment with Career Coach in the Career Center to finalize career decision.
Conducting an Informational Interview
In order to maximize the job shadowing time slot, you should prepare a list of informational interview questions in advance of your visit. If you are job shadowing at more than one employer worksite in the same occupational area, the same list of questions should be used at both sites in order to compare responses. (HINT: Listen attentively and take good notes.)
Make it absolutely clear to the employer that you are NOT asking for a job. You are simply asking for information and advice. Because you are doing the interviewing, you are in charge. Ask questions and let the interviewee lean back and talk to her/his heart’s content.
Job Shadowing: Informational Interview Questions
Some sample questions include:
- “What“ training/experience, education course subjects, skills, characteristics/personality traits) are needed to succeed in this job / occupation?”
- “What do you do in a typical day’s activities in this position?” “What do you like best about this job?”
- “What do you like least about this job?”
- “What are some challenges or frustrations in this job?”
- “What are the working conditions in this job (physical environment, level of stress, etc.)”
- “How does this job support your way of living in terms of income, working hours, continuing education and leisure time?”
- “What kind of work schedule does this career require (overtime, flextime, part-time, job sharing, travel, on-call, 9 to 5, available by pager)?”
- “What style of supervision is typically used in this type of job?”
- “What technologies are integrated into this career field?”
- “What is a typical entry-level salary ... and potential salary range?”
- “What was your career path?” “How did you find your job?”
- “What professional organizations are active and responsive in this career field?”
- “Based on my background, how would a person like me fit into this field?” or “How would you recommend that someone break into this field?”
- “What do you think this career field will be like in another 5-10 years?” or “What are the hiring trends in this field?”
- “What advice / suggestions would you give someone who is thinking of this career?”
- “Are there related fields I should explore?”
- “When I’m finished with my training, what suggestions would you give someone who is trying to locate job opportunities in this field?”
- “What is the toughest question that you would ask a job candidate during an interview for this job, and how do you want it answered?”
- “Might you have one or two names of other informative people that I could contact?”