A job shadow provides an opportunity for students to see first-hand what the workplace looks like and what a day in the life of the chosen career may be like, and to ask very specific questions related to the career.
When is an individual ready for a job shadow?
Job shadows are most appropriate and beneficial when a student has narrowed down their career search to a few good possibilities. Considerable pre-work should be done so that the youth has a general understanding of the occupation prior to the job shadow. This helps to ensure that time is well spent for both parties and makes it much easier for the student to gain the full benefit of the experience. Remember, both the career and the company play a role in how a job is portrayed. It may be helpful for youth to shadow the same career in different settings in order to determine their interest.
Tips for preparing your students
- Double-check to ensure that the student wants to do the job shadow, and is able to follow through.
- Make sure students do their homework researching both the career and the employer. The more they research, the easier it will be to ask great questions, and the more benefit students will get from the experience.
- Have students dress for the workplace they are visiting. They should treat the job shadow as an opportunity to learn AND as an opportunity to make a great impression on a prospective employer.
- If a student is unable to keep the commitment, contact the company as far in advance as possible. Request to reschedule at the shadow provider’s convenience.
- Help the student prepare questions. Here are some examples of questions:
- What made you select your career?
- How long have you worked for this company? Where did you work previously?
- What could I expect to earn at an entry level in this type of job? (Do NOT ask what the job shadow provider earns.) You can also ask what the salary range would be for this position.
- Are you required to continue your training/education while working?
- Who do you interact with in the workplace? What are their roles with the company?
- What type of education/training did your job require?
- What benefits does your company provide?
- If I decide to pursue this career, what would you suggest I do to prepare?
- What technology do you use in your work? Has this changed since you started working here?
- What do you like most/least about your job?
- What classes should I take in high school/college to prepare for this career?
- Be sure the student thanks the individual shadowed at the end of your visit and follows up with a written thank you.