4 Reasons Why Job Shadowing Is a Great Idea

By Aala

So, we’re in the midst of Job Shadow Week here at the U of A. (And yes, you did read that correctly… it isn’t just Reading Week.) Maybe this is the first time you’re hearing about it; or maybe you’ve already signed up, except you’re now on the fence about participating because you realized that you actually wanted to spend the entirety of Reading Week catching up on all the sleep you’ve missed… Regardless, I’m here to tell you why job shadowing is a GIANT step in the right direction!

1. You’ll learn more about a career you’re interested in, and see if it’s really for you.

There’s the “I KNOW I want to be a lawyer because of Harvey Specter” kind of sure, and then there’s the “I want to be a lawyer because I spent an entire week with a real lawyer, and I know exactly what I’m getting myself into” kind of sure. If you’re an indecisive person like I am, or trying to weed out one of many options in terms of which career you’d like to pursue, job shadowing is a must, because it’ll ultimately help you make more of an informed decision. Even if you’re part of the 0.1% (of the undergraduate population) that are 100% certain about the direction they want to head in career-wise, job shadowing will — at the very least — help you become even more at ease with your decision.

2. You’ll begin building a list of networking contacts.

Job shadowing, in some ways, will allow you to get your foot in the door (this is more relevant for some careers than others). You’ll meet people who are where you’d like to be in a few years, in addition to your mentor. This will give you a head-start in terms of building a list of contacts in a career you’re interested in, which is ALWAYS a good idea. Think of it as a (growing) list of people that you can contact to find out more information, and each will likely have different things to tell you, all of which are helpful and relevant to your own experience.

3. You gain relevant experience.

Even though job shadowing is rarely longer than a week, experience is experience. This may be a little blurb you add on your resume, but it shows future employers that you took the initiative and went out of your way to learn more, and that you’ve experienced the profession at a daily level. And, if you ever interview for a job similar to the one you shadowed, it’ll give you more talking points during the interview; you’ll be able to show the interviewer that you know exactly what the job entails, giving you a more confident air.

4. It might provide a way for you to get an internship.

Internships are the best way for entry-level candidates to gain experience, and more often than not, lead to more solid job offers. Impressing your job shadowing mentor and showing potential could result in an internship opportunity. Not because your mentor will be able to offer you the position during the shadowing, but if internship opportunities were available and you submitted an application, you would likely be more distinguished than other candidates because: a) you’ve already been exposed to the inner workings of the organization/company, and b) your mentor will be able to vouch for you, in a sense. 

For those of you who are on the fence, I hope I’ve made a great case for job shadowing. And for those of you who weren’t even considering it in the first place, well… CONSIDER IT, because the opportunity will present itself next year, and you’ll probably want to be a part of it. Job shadowing can be extremely beneficial, as long as you know exactly what you’d like to gain from the experience: ideally, you want your questions (about a career) answered by someone who has a ton of experience in that field. So, knowing exactly what you’d like to know more about, and how your mentor can help, can make the job shadowing experience a lot easier for both you and your mentor. Questions are your best friend when it comes to job shadowing!