Shadowing is a short-term opportunity for you to observe the daily activities of a professional in a field of interest. It allows you to explore your academic and professional interests while developing a professional network. Shadowing also may connect you with a mentor, who can provide guidance on career paths and help you view the field through the eyes of a professional to help you determine if it’s right for you.
How to get started:
Talk to your family, friends, peers and extended circle about your academic interests. Explain your areas of interest and ask if they know anyone who would allow you to shadow them.
Your professors, who have professional connections within their field, are excellent resources. Consider asking them if they’d be willing to connect you to other professionals. They may be able to help you form a list of questions about the positions you’re interested in. Also, professors often recommend career or professional opportunities you may not have considered. Don’t be afraid to try new things and shadow a mentor in a new field.
Clark’s LinkedIn page and the Clark Career Services Networking Group allow you to search alumni who work within your area of interest and can help you form professional relationships. LinkedIn is also a great platform to create a positive online presence by posting your previous experience, coursework and projects.
If you’re looking for a mentor or want to job shadow, consider connecting with professional associations and their members. Read up on members to see if their interests match yours and send an email to ask if you can shadow them for a day. Be sure your email is professional in tone and doesn’t have any typos.
If you’re not sure you want to take part in a day-long job shadow, but you still want to learn more about a career path and develop a mentoring relationship, consider an informational interview. This kind of interview can help you understand your interests better and network within your field. Discussing a career with an experienced professional allows you to explore:
- If your interests align with a particular position or industry
- How you become qualified for the position
- The steps you need to take to improve your chances of entering the field
Don’t forget to demonstrate good communication skills by asking thoughtful questions and listening careful to the answers.