Gain Career Exposure

Job Shadowing

Usually, the biggest benefit of job shadowing is that it lets you directly observe different jobs so you can better understand what different careers entail. Shadowing a job can help you learn if it's really something you would enjoy. For example, you may have always dreamed of being a journalist, but shadowing one may cause you to realize that you don't enjoy all the research and editing they have to do. On the other hand, you may find a different job much more interesting than you originally thought it would be.

Key Facts about Job Shadowing:

  • Job shadowing is a great way to observe specific jobs and help decide which careers you are most interested in.
  • Job shadows are a great opportunity for high school students because they can help you plan your future and decide what to major in at college.
  • During a job shadow, you will observe a typical workday at the company.
  • Your school can help you set up a job shadow, or you can contact companies you’re interested in directly.
  • Beforehand, research the company and career field you’ll be observing so you can ask relevant questions.
  • During your job shadow, make the most of the experience by speaking to as many people and participating in as many activities as you can.
  • Do some research on the company so that you’re prepared for when you arrive. Check the company’s website to get this information. Learn basic facts such as what work they do, how many people they employ, and when they were founded. Also, read over the company’s goals and mission statement if they have them to get a better sense of where you’ll be working.
  • If you know who you’ll be shadowing, research their position as well so you have a better idea of what to expect when you shadow.
  • Be prepared to discuss yourself and your career goals. If you’re not sure about your career goals, that’s fine too, just mention you’re still gathering information if you’re asked.
  • Prepare some questions you’d like to ask while shadowing. These questions can be about the job itself, the career field, or advice you’re interested in getting. Sample questions include:
    • What caused you to choose this job?
    • What do you like about this job? What do you dislike about it?
    • What makes a person successful at this job?
    • What classes can I take to help prepare me for a job in this field?
    • What skills are useful for this job?
  • Make sure you know where and when your job shadow will be taking place, and confirm with someone from the company a few days beforehand.
  • Know how to get to the location and allow extra time to ensure you are not late.
  • Dress appropriately. Unless you will be getting dirty, dress similar to how you would for a job interview. Don’t wear t-shirts, shorts, or flip-flops.
  • Bring a notepad so you can take down notes and things you learn.
  • Keep your phone off during the job shadow and resist the urge to text or check your Facebook messages until you’re back home.
  • Be enthusiastic and participate in each activity suggested. You want to learn as much as possible from this experience.
  • Speak to as many people as you can and ask for their business cards if you're interested in talking with them more.
  • Shake hands and introduce yourself to every person you meet.
  • Remember to be respectful of people's time. While most people you meet will be happy to talk with you, remember that you are at someone's workplace and they need to work as well, so try not to take up too much of any one person's time.
  • Send thank-you notes to the person or people you shadowed, and mention a few things you learned.
  • Write up a few sentences on your job shadow experience for your own personal use. Describe what you did, what you enjoyed, what you didn’t enjoy, and what you learned. This will be useful information to have in the future when you don’t remember the details of your job shadow as clearly.
  • Store contact information and business cards in a safe place so you can reference them if you need to contact the company again for more information, ask follow-up questions, or if you end up applying for a job there.

(Extracts from

Informational Interview

Perform an informational interview, where you ask questions from experts in that field. More about informational interview.


Volunteer Work

Get involved in volunteer work. Volunteer work is a great way to get involved with any career you might be interested. Contact the SLCC Thayne Center for Service and Learning.

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