Explore Careers through Job Shadowing

Job shadowing or informational interviews are great ways to experience a career options firsthand. Spending the day with a professional in your field of interest or current major allows you to ask questions and see what a day in that profession is like. There is no way to be 100 percent sure if the position will be a good fit until you’ve tried it – and shadowing is about as close as you can get.  It can also potentially lead to a job – 1 in 12 informational interviews leads to a job as opposed to 1 in 200 résumés. *

Find a professional to shadow. Take some time to contemplate what careers and companies interest you. Reach out first to any connection you have in these occupations or companies – relatives, parents of friends, neighbors, i.e. If you don’t have a personal connection, research employees through the company website or LinkedIn and reach out to individuals whose works interests you. Be courteous, friendly and enthusiastic about the company and field of work. If you are in college, discuss job shadowing with you advisor and seek assistance from career service on your campus. Don’t get discourage if you have to contact several professionals to find one with the time and interest to allow you to job shadow. If you are in high school, talk to your school counselor.

Come prepared. Figure out how to get there, where to park, and an outfit that will adhere to the company’s dress code. Research the company thoroughly so you do not waste your time asking obvious questions. From your research, compile questions to ask that will generate insight from the professional you are job shadowing.

Fill the space. If you will be spending the whole day job shadowing, there will most likely be downtime such as lunch. Have topics or filler questions prepared to discuss. If the professional takes you out to lunch take advantage of getting to know them in a more informal environment.

Sell yourself. Treat the experience the same as you would an interview. Bring copies of your resume and portfolio if possible. Be prepared to talk about your academics, interests, college and career goals. Have an elevator pitch ready to go in case you are given the opportunity to meet a hiring manager or management in your field of interest. 

Take notes. Listen attentively to the answers to your questions and show your interest by writing down their answers. Ask if you can send follow up questions after the job shadowing experience. Get his or her business card and preferred method of contact so you can send a thank-you note afterwards.


 * College Foundation of North Carolina. How to Arrange a Job Shadow or Informational Interview.

Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on February 24, 2018 at 7:50am.