What is Job Shadowing?


Mar 6, 2023

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Whether entering a new role or exploring your future career options, job shadowing is a great opportunity to learn about a certain job or profession. Many professionals, college graduates and high school seniors can benefit from this professional experience.

What is Job Shadowing?

Job shadowing is a type of training in which students or professionals can learn more about a particular profession. It gives you a sneak peek into what life is like while working various jobs. Shadowing an experienced professional can give you valuable insight into whether or not a job or career is right for you.

The Purpose of Shadowing

The main purpose of job shadowing is to act as someone’s “shadow,” or follow them around while they work to see what their job is like. For example, suppose you shadow a nurse. In that case, you’ll see what tasks they perform daily, whether distributing medications to patients or updating electronic health records (EHRs). 

No two individuals will have the same experience, especially because every job is different and comes with its own responsibilities. Many jobs require varying duties depending on their company’s needs so that every day could feel or be different. These opportunities are like a short-term version of an internship, providing you with the necessary experience needed to work in today’s fast-paced business environment. 

How Job Shadowing Works

On the one hand, job shadowing is informal — you can contact a company and ask for an opportunity to learn more about a job that interests you. On the other hand, you may participate in a job shadowing program through a high school, college, or university. Either way, you’ll benefit from gaining experience.

Although many opportunities are meant to help young students or entry-level professionals, older adults can still job shadow. Just because someone is older doesn’t necessarily mean they have enough experience in the field they’re interested in.

How to Prepare for a Job Shadowing Opportunity

Suppose this is your first time shadowing someone. In that case, it’s important to research the role beforehand so you know what to expect during your experience. 

The person you’re shadowing will appreciate it if you have several questions for them, as it can make the shadowing experience easier for them. They can answer any questions about the role, what it entails, what they do or do not like about the job, etc. 

Before you start, bring a notepad and something to write with. You should be taking notes, whether writing down first impressions about the job or jotting down answers to your questions. 

You should also be upbeat and enthusiastic about the opportunity and friendly to any people you meet. This is how you build your professional network. And who knows — shadowing could lead to a job opportunity someday.

Shadow a Professional in Your Field of Interest

High school seniors, college students and graduates and adults looking to enter a new field can all benefit from job shadowing. Consider the tips above if you’re considering shadowing someone in their role — good luck!

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