Whether you’re a high school student or in your first years of college, you may be tossing around ideas of what you’d like to do with your future.  What career would you like to pursue? What type of lifestyle would you like to live?  Where would you want to settle down geographically and call home?  If you’re someone who is wavering on what type of career to choose or even someone who is pretty certain that you have it all figured out, you may want to set up some job shadowing experiences to make sure that you’re aware of what your “dream job” entails.

Job shadowing is the opportunity to observe an employee performing their daily work routine in their environment.  It allows you to explore specific careers and to get a realistic picture of the tasks performed for that job.  This will allow you to make an informed decision about your career of choice!

The benefits and importance of job shadowing:

  • The ability to ask questions like these: What made you choose this career? What education do you need to become employed in this field?  If you could go back, would you change anything?  What is your favorite and least favorite thing about this job?  Do you have advice that may help to make my experience go more smoothly?
  • Hands-on experience: In some job shadowing experiences, not only are you able to observe how tasks are completed but you may also get some hands-on experience yourself.  This is certainly beneficial to inspire or deter you from pursuing this career path further.  Narrowing down a specific path:  In some careers, you may receive a degree and then choose to specialize further.  For example, my daughter is majoring in Radiography Technology but would like to go one step further and become specialized.  Therefore, she has observed in various medical facilities to determine if she would like to enter the world of Mammography, Radiation Therapy or Sonography.  The specialty degrees will take a bit of extra schooling, but it will make her more marketable and allow her to earn more.
  • Scholarship possibilities: There are programs out there, for example, KHOP (Kearney Health Opportunities Program), RHOP (Rural Health Opportunities Program), KLOP (Kearney Law Opportunities Program) that offer scholarships for students seeking health or law professions.  They offer scholarships to help cover the cost of tuition at particular colleges and an automatic position in professional school.  Persons vying for these scholarships/positions must go through the application process and if selected as a finalist, and will need to go through an interview process as well.  Job Shadowing in that particular field can help show scholarship providers that you are serious about a career in that field.
  • Networking: Job shadowing is a great way to meet people in the profession that you are seeking.  In the future, you may be able to use those people to answer questions for you, have them write letters of recommendation on your behalf, or they may recall your experiences at their business and may want to offer you a position after you are done with your schooling!

Summer is a great time to set up job shadowing opportunities. Enlist the help of your parents to make arrangements, suggestions, or to contact professionals on your behalf.  Set up job shadowing well in advance and, if possible, observe someone in that position for more than one day to get a better grasp of their day-to-day tasks.

Job shadowing is an invaluable experience that will help you narrow down your career choice and link your classroom experiences with work requirements.