Spring semester is always a busy time in CES as Logger students and recent graduates seek out career-related opportunities—and our office for help finding and successfully applying for them. One important step in discovering what careers are a good fit is to job shadow a professional working in your field of interest.

Whether you’re a first-year student or a rising senior, I challenge you to job shadow someone who is doing work that you admire this spring. Here’s why…

  • Explore fields of interest. Job shadowing is a great way to understand if a field is for you. Interested in PR, advertising, and marketing? Shadow a professional working in each role to gain an understanding of how the fields (and roles within them) are similar and different. Ask for advice and tips on getting into the industry. See what might be a good fit given your interests, professional values, and skills.
  • See what an actual day on the job is like. Perhaps you have always been curious about becoming a biochemist, but you’ve also become intrigued with the idea of consulting in the field of environmental policy. Shadowing individuals working in both fields will allow you to see the very different experiences you might have. Will you work in a lab, a university, a firm, or out in the field? Will you spend most of your time working independently or collaborating with others? Job shadow and spend some time exploring more of these details by researching any job title in ONET. Understanding the details of a typical day on the job allows you to be more confident pursuing any career.
  • Get your foot in the door (literally). By shadowing with a specific organization or employer, you get an insider’s perspective on the company culture. Want to know if you would fit in well at Google or Amazon? Curious about how a small business environment would be different? Wondering if non-profit is the route for you? Job shadow someone in each of the environments you are considering to see where you fit best and can contribute the most.
  • Make connections. Spending several hours with a network connection gives you the opportunity to make an impression and develop a potentially impactful relationship. You’ll also meet other professionals besides your shadow host. Follow up with individuals you met while shadowing, and connect through LinkedIn. Remind them how you met and tell them how appreciative you are of the time shared. It’s a cliché, but absolutely true that it’s a small world. You never know how an individual can help you—or you them—or where an opportunity will come from.
  • Practice professionalism. Every job shadow experience begins with a handshake and an introduction. Wouldn’t it be great to practice that elevator pitch IRL before the interview for your dream job? See what type of attire is considered appropriate for the industry. Hear insider lingo and terms. Job shadowing provides an opportunity to interact with professionals and see what might be expected of you in the future.

There are so many benefits to job shadowing! Need help researching a professional to shadow or constructing a meaningful message when reaching out? Call CES at 253.879.3161 to schedule an appointment with a career advisor or drop by Howarth 101. We look forward to helping you along your career path and hope job shadowing will be a useful part of it!

P.S. Want a job shadowing experience where someone else has done the initial legwork for you? Each January, CES facilitates Take a Logger to Work job shadowing days. We invite Logger alumni and parents from a wide range of career fields to host students for half-day shadows. Applications are due during fall semester. Check it out!

Photo Credits | Coffee Shop Networking: Alejandro Escamilla, Unsplash.com
© 2016 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound