Job Shadow a Pro
With so many jobs out there, how does anyone really know what they will like? One great way is to job shadow. Spending a day on the job helps you know what to expect, and meeting someone who has your dream job is an amazing way to build connections. Here are some tips from Monster Jobs on how to shadow with success.
Contact the person with your dream job.
Email is the best way to go. Look for their contact information on the company page. If you know someone who can refer you, that’s even better. Keep the email brief, direct, and professional. Let them know who you are, politely ask if they would be willing to arrange a job shadow, and give them your contact information.
Do your research.
Your time with this person is valuable. You don’t want to waste time asking questions that a quick Google search could answer. Make sure you research the company history. Learn as much as possible about what the person does. And visit the U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook for statistics on average pay, job outlook, etc.
The person you’re meeting may not be able to give you a whole day. But if they can, you want to take advantage of it! It’s best to schedule a job shadow on a day when you have plenty of time to be available (I job shadowed on a home leave). Always plan enough travel time to arrive early and make a good first impression. Expect to observe, but come prepared to work if they ask you to jump in!
Plan your questions.
Don’t wait until they ask “Do you have any questions?” to start thinking about your questions. Plan them out beforehand and write them down on a note app or a notepad you take with you. Be sure to take notes on their answers so you can remember as much as possible. You can even ask for permission to record your Q&A conversation.
Here are some possible questions to ask:
“What are some skills I need to succeed at this job?”
“How did your educational or past work experience prepare you for this position?”
“What is the most rewarding part of your job?”
“What is the most challenging?”
“What are some things you wish you had know before you started working?”
“How would you describe your work environment/atmosphere?”
“Is there any reason I shouldn’t want this job?”
“What would you recommend I do to pursue a career in this field?”
The person you shadow is an important connection. Through them, you can begin to build your network. Even if you decide that career is not for you, they can recommend you to others who work in different areas. If you have a LinkedIn, add them to your network. If you don’t, consider signing up soon. Make sure to send them a thank-you card, handwritten if at all possible. You want them to remember you as someone who was proactive in reaching out to them, prepared during the shadowing experience, and grateful afterwards.
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