When you’re considering a specific career path, shadowing a veteran professional for a day can help you determine if it’s a good fit for your skills, interests and goals. To make the most of your visit, decide exactly what you hope to learn from the experience and determine the best ways to make a positive impression on everyone you meet.
Research the Company
While you’re just shadowing for now, you might one day want to apply for a job at the company. Job shadowing is your introduction to professionals within the industry, so you want to make a good impression. Anyone you meet could one day see your resume and remember the prior encounter with you. Research the organization beforehand to get a feel for the corporate culture, dress code and etiquette. Browse the company’s website and talk to current or former employees. This helps you fit in with the team and prevents an embarrassing faux pas.
Research the Profession
Your host expects you to have some knowledge of the occupation and industry before meeting with him. You don’t want to ask anything that should be common knowledge, so learn as much as you can to target your questions. Instead of inquiring about the necessary degrees or average salary, focus on highly specific topics such as the typical workday or the qualities crucial to job success. Also, ask about your host’s experiences, such as what motivated him to pursue the profession, what he likes and dislikes about it and what he’s learned.
Ask for the Agenda
You’ll likely spend the entire day at the organization, and your visit might include everything from an extensive tour of the facility to lunch with your host and possibly other employees. Ask your mentor for a schedule to help you prepare. If the visit includes lunch, ask if you’ll dine at the company’s cafeteria or a nearby restaurant. Research the dress code, menu and other specifics so you’ll know what to order and how to behave and dress. If the visit includes sitting in on meetings or accompanying your host to other official functions, learn as much about these proceedings as you can.
Compile a list of questions well in advance of your job shadow day and rehearse if you’re nervous at the thought of quizzing your host. Determine what you need to know to help you prepare you for career success or decide if this is the right profession for you. You might not have to time to ask every question on your list, so determine which ones are the most important so you can seek opportunities to discuss them early in the day. Also, prepare for the host’s questions. He’ll likely ask you to tell him about yourself and why you’re interested in the profession.