Tips for a Successful Job Shadowing Experience

In light of the upcoming winter externship opportunities, we are sharing some tips from Monster on how to make the most of a shadowing experience.

Photo: Suyun Kim with Extern Sponsor Alison Holmes

In light of the upcoming winter externship opportunities, we are sharing some tips from Monster on how to make the most of a shadowing experience. Some externships have hands-on opportunities, but most are designed to be observational experiences. Sign up by 11:59 TONIGHT (11/1) by clicking here


Tips for a Successful Job Shadowing Experience

By Monster  |  Original article posted here:
Job shadowing can be an excellent way to learn about a professional’s day-to-day responsibilities and decide whether their career appeals to you. It can also provide valuable opportunities to network with professionals in your chosen field. You’re likely to only job shadow for a day or just a few hours, so you must make the most of your time. Remember these tips to get the maximum benefit from job shadowing.

Make Sure You’re Clear on the Details

Before you arrive for your job-shadowing stint, be clear on its details. Miscommunication before you start job shadowing can reflect badly on you. Remember to ask where you’ll job shadow, what time you should arrive, and what you should wear. Required dress depends on the workplace; suits may be appropriate in one environment, while smart casual dress might be more appropriate for another. Research where you’ll job shadow and how long it will take to get there. Allow extra time in case there’s bad traffic or you get lost.

Do Your Research

You’ll be much better prepared to job shadow if you’re informed about the company you’re visiting and the person you’re shadowing. The organization’s corporate website is a good place to start. Many sites can also give you insight into your job-shadowing host. Note any job-shadowing ideas you have, such as processes you’d like to see or departments you’d like to view. Your host is likely to appreciate your initiative. Jotting down pertinent questions you think of during your research can also create a good impression and help you learn more from the experience.

Reflect On Your Own Career Path

You shouldn’t expect to ask all the job-shadowing questions. Your host is likely to be interested in what brought you to the company and where you hope to head in your career. Reflect on this before you arrive; it will ensure you give an articulate answer that creates a positive impression rather than stammering and stuttering through your response.

Focus on Your Interactions With People

The way you interact with the people you encounter will determine how much you get from your time job shadowing. Focus on making good impressions, shaking hands with every person you meet, maintaining eye contact, and addressing them with their formal titles unless you’re told otherwise. Thank every person for their time and ask for their business cards. Sending them a personal thank you or email after you’re done shadowing can make a strong final impression.

Stay Positive

You might love your time job shadowing or realize this career path isn’t for you. Regardless of your experience, make sure you maintain a positive demeanor. Complaining about how you’re spending your time or simply looking sour will reflect badly on you and could harm your chance of making contacts.

Take Notes

Hopefully you’ll learn a lot during your time job shadowing, so it may be difficult to commit it all to memory. Taking notes while you’re job shadowing is a good way to retain information about your experience. Remember to bring along a notepad and pen, laptop, or personal recorder to get down your observations and insights.

Forget About Your Smartphone

Many of us feel like our smartphones are an extension of ourselves, but job shadowing isn’t the time to interact with yours. It’s good practice to switch off your smartphone when you arrive to start job shadowing and only turn it back on once you’re done. Refrain from making or receiving personal calls. If you absolutely can’t afford to be off the grid, switch your phone to silent and resist the urge to use it. You’ll be far too busy to text, tweet, or update your status.
With these tips in mind, you can make the most of your job-shadowing experience.