Five reasons why job shadowing helps benefit your future career

Picture this. You’re a high school senior trying to decide between two different majors. On one hand, you’ve always dreamed about attending medical school, but you’re worried you won’t like working long hours at the clinic. On the other hand, you love music and think you have what it takes to be a band teacher, but you also find a classroom full of rowdy high school students a little intimidating. Fortunately, your high school provides job shadow opportunities, so you can get a taste of both career fields and put an end to your career choice woes.

Job shadowing is the perfect way to experience a “day in the life” of a working professional without the commitment of a long-term job or internship. Once you determine your job shadow site, you can spend a day (or even half a day) following a professional in your career of choice. Most likely, you’ll even get to help them complete some of their daily tasks and get a sneak peek into the culture of the company they work for.

Here are five reasons why job shadowing can help benefit you in your search for a college major or future career:

  1. It enables you to discover your passions. Before you decide on your major or future career, it’s important to know where your passions lie and what motivates you best. During a job shadow, you’ll see what skills the position requires and whether the work you’ll be doing matches up with your own gifts and abilities. Even if you end up doing something you don’t enjoy, your experience will help you realize what kind of work you are interested in and what kind of work situations you should avoid.


  1. It helps you network with professionals in the field. In the working world, it’s all about connections. You would be surprised at the number of people who get a job offer because a former employer recommended them for the position or because the company they interned at recognized their potential. Job shadowing is yet another way you can form connections with people in your line of work. Ask your friends’ parents, your aunts and uncles and even your neighbors if you can do a job shadow at their company. Who knows – you might end up meeting a future employer while making copies in the breakroom.


  1. It builds your resume. Although internships tend to carry a bit more weight on your resume, job shadow experiences show future employers that you are committed to finding a job that fits. Employers want to hire individuals who are passionate about their respective field and by making note of a job shadow on your resume, you are identifying as someone who truly cares about the work you do.


  1. It provides you with an honest glimpse into the future. You can watch all the episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” that you want, but the reality is, TV shows and movies are not going to give you an accurate depiction of what a medical career actually involves. Job shadowing will give you the chance to experience a job’s perks and its challenges, the daily stressors as well as the rewards.


  1. You’ll have a safe place to ask questions. The professional you’re shadowing will most likely anticipate and welcome your questions about their work. On the day of your job shadow, come prepared with a list of questions about the ins and outs of the job. To get your own list started, check out “Questions to Ask While You Job Shadow” in our College Handbook.