Student Life

The Benefits of Job Shadowing

Use job shadowing to your advantage to determine the best career path for your passions and interests!

Student Contributor, Jasmin Kaur

June 12, 2023

The Benefits of Job Shadowing
Job shadowing is the perfect way to "try out" careers.
Simply put, job shadowing allows you to experience the daily ins and outs of a specific job and determine whether a career is right for you! Many popular roles for job shadowing are in the medical and technology fields, including following doctors and nurses and experiencing their daily schedules and duties. While job shadowing is a term that often comes up in conversations about careers and internships, the concept can be a bit vague or confusing. Below are some frequently asked questions to help you determine whether job shadowing is right for you and how to get started!

All About Job Shadowing

Who should job shadow?

High school students, college undergraduates, and adults switching careers should all consider job shadowing! Experiencing a position firsthand can give you a better understanding of what that career entails and whether it’s something that you’re truly passionate about.

Why should I job shadow? Is it really that significant?

While missing out on an opportunity here or there isn’t the end of the world, job shadowing can provide insight into a career beyond textbook examples. For example, becoming a veterinarian and working with animals all day can sound exciting for an animal lover. However, shadowing an actual vet can provide behind-the-scenes experience, including cons such as long hours or possibly low pay, and pros such as saving animals’ lives or helping rehabilitate endangered species!
It can also set up a networking web for you and provide references for later internships and jobs.

How does job shadowing look on a resume or college application?

Job shadowing certainly boosts your resume or college applications. By job shadowing, you display a genuine interest in a career or position and (as a high school student) a higher level of maturity and seriousness by looking and planning ahead. For undergraduate students, it lets employers know that they have some experience in the field.

Okay, so how do I get started?

Where and when you start depends on what career you’re considering. Typically, summer is the ideal time for job shadowing since you won’t have to worry about schoolwork and scheduling, but some roles, such as teaching, are better suited to fall and spring. The length of a job shadowing appointment can vary anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, depending on the role and company. First, narrow down your interests, location, time, and availability. Think about what kind of environment you envision your future job in, and search for similar opportunities near you through local organizations and businesses. Next, determine your professional contact. In other words, see how to reach out to a business. Ask your guidance or career counselor to see if your school has any resources or programs available or contact a company's human resources department for information about a possible shadowing opportunity. Research varying organizations to see which aligns best with your interests and preferences. Lastly, write a formal email stating your name, who you are, and that you would like to job shadow them (or be put in contact with someone that you can job shadow) for this or that reason.

What if I never hear back from the company?

Don’t worry! Allow the department or individual a few weeks to get back, and if you don’t receive any follow-up communication, move on to a different organization. Oftentimes companies are busy with a myriad of other tasks, and your email can get pushed to the back–-but don't let that discourage you! Reaching out is key!

I got the position. What do I do now?

Congratulations! The hard part is over—you took the initiative of reaching out and landing the position, and now you get to enjoy it! Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the schedule, dress code, or other rules and regulations, and bring a pen and pencil with you on the first day for notes. Before you know it, you’ll fall into the routine like the rest of the staff! Make the most of your experience by asking questions, taking notes, and diving into the role. Lastly, don't forget to send a thank-you note once your shadowing appointment is complete! An email or handwritten note both work. Job shadowing is a great way to determine whether a certain career is right for you and gain valuable insight into the daily activities and roles involved. As a high school student, it allows you to try different jobs and settings to determine which careers best align with your interests, while college students can use job shadowing to support their academic education with real-life experience. As the summer begins, reach out to friends and family or your school career center or guidance counselor to start your search for job shadowing opportunities!

You Might Also Like

Join Fastweb.
Match Instantly.

Become a member and gain exclusive access to our database of over 1.5 million scholarships.

I am a:
Parents: Complete the questions using your child's information
Please select a grade level
Please enter a valid zip code.

By clicking, I agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.