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Imagine how hard it would be to finish college only to find out your intended career choice isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For many students, this sudden awareness is an unfortunate reality.
It takes more than researching the ins and outs of a job online to understand if you have what it takes or a genuine interest in the field — in many instances, only hands-on training and face-to-face interactions can give you an accurate career account.
That’s why job shadowing benefits college students and recent graduates who are still trying to figure out their futures. If you’re unsure about a particular career path, you might consider these five benefits of job shadowing.
1. Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Role
Maybe you’re pursuing a particular career with a perceived notion about what the role entails. If so, job shadowing could reveal some unexpected facets you hadn’t considered before.
When you shadow someone in your desired role, you can gain a deeper understanding of the day-to-day tasks, potential challenges, and numerous rewards.
Although you may find that you’re less than enamored with the intricacies of a position, it’s better to prepare yourself for the least glamorous parts of the job.
2. Learn From Others’ Experiences
Job shadowing gives insight into another person’s experiences within a specific role. Through job shadowing, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions to your mentor and receive valuable feedback from someone who does what you think you’re interested in doing yourself.
Feel free to ask them questions about what they enjoy the most about their job or what they wish were different. You might also ask if there is anything else they wish they had pursued or about similar roles and companies within the field.
Their answers might help you shift gears in your professional endeavors or attain career success much more quickly.
3. Learn New Skills
Even if you ultimately rethink your career goals after job shadowing — 30% of undergraduates change their major within the first three years — the technique allows you to learn new skills and industry standards that pertain to a specific role. Even better, relevant skills are often transferable to other companies or positions.
When you shadow someone in your desired position, you can better recognize the skills you’re missing on your resume and work to master what you need to conduct your work successfully. Learning the most critical skills for the job — whether through taking more courses or changing your major — is also conducive to getting a foot in the door.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 91.2% of employers want applicants with problem-solving skills, while 86.3% look for individuals who know how to collaborate with a team.
4. Connect With Industry Professionals
Any way you can connect with industry professionals helps during the job search process — better yet, knowing someone in your desired role or company can propel your career growth.
Job shadowing fosters professional relationships and mentorship, generating a smoother transition from college to the workplace. In fact, 80% of jobs are filled through networking, so taking advantage of this crucial opportunity while job shadowing could benefit you in the long run.
However, don’t close yourself off to related positions. Just because you might not have considered something else before doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent opportunity to leverage your skills elsewhere.
5. Determine the Right Career for You
Perhaps the most significant takeaway from job shadowing is determining if a position suits you. It might be the case that a job isn’t what you thought it would be, giving you the chance to figure it out early on.
When you shadow an industry professional, you might also explore other roles you didn’t know enough about or even existed. For example, about 34% of interns say the experiences significantly impact their academic and career decisions.
Job shadowing lets you list essential aspects you’re looking for in a career — this is particularly helpful during your job search. Take nursing, which you may decide is still the best career path, but you’d prefer to work in a doctor’s office rather than a busy emergency room.
Get All the Information Beforehand
Knowing what to do next can be challenging whether you’re still in school or have recently graduated with a degree. To learn where your interests lie and whether you’re suited for the day-to-day tasks associated with a particular career, you need to know all the facts before sending in your resume.
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