Vincy Workplace
March 18, 2011
15 Ways to Prepare for a Job Shadow Day

One of the best ways to learn more about a career is through a job shadow experience. Whether you are a student or an adult changing careers, job shadows are a way to get good sense of a position.{{more}}

During a job shadow day, the student spends a day with someone who is currently working in that career to observe what they do on a daily basis. Although only some schools participate in job shadow days, you can also arrange your own. Here are a few tips to make your job shadow experience even more meaningful.

Sign up early. As soon as the opportunity to participate in a shadow comes along, be one of the first to say yes. This increases your chances of getting to shadow the professional of your choice.

Arrange your own job shadow. If your school does not offer a job shadow day, ask your parents, friends, neighbors or counselors for help in finding a professional to shadow.

Get contact information. If you arrange your own job shadow, make sure you have the name, address, department and phone number of your job shadow contact.

Prepare your resume. Take an edited copy of your resume with you.

Arrive on time. If you are going with your school, get to school on time to ride the bus to the job shadow. If you arranged it on your own, arrive 10-15 minutes before your appointed time.

Take a notebook and pen. You need to take notes as it shows your host that you are serious about learning.

Ask questions. Develop a list of at least 10 questions. Ask about a typical day, challenges of the job, compensation, roles and responsibilities, personal characteristics, education and training required for the career.

Turn off cell phones. No texting, checking social media, or talking on the phone.

Be respectful. If you are in a large group, avoid extended conversations with friends. You are in someone else’s workspace and your loud behavior can disturb the other workers and embarrass your school.

Dress appropriately. Different careers require different attire. If you are shadowing a maintenance person, your attire will be different than that of a student shadowing in a conservative office building.

Don’t go with your best friends. Chances are if you go with your best friends, you will spend more time talking to them instead of listening, learning and asking questions.

Use your manners. Address people as Mr. or Ms. during your job shadow unless you are given permission to use their first names.

Participate. Some job shadow hosts go out of their way to make the experience fun. Don’t sit on the sidelines—get involved and participate in all the activities.

Say thank you. Make sure you thank the people who took time to share their experiences with you.

Ask for business cards. Send handwritten thank-you cards to each person you shadow. You may send an initial email, but a handwritten note says you are a very classy person.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT on Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace, send an email to

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