Why Job-Shadowing is a Good Idea During College

Alexa Casacci

As the end of high school approaches, the pressure is on to figure out what career you want to pursue in life. It can be very difficult to choose what occupation will suit you best, meet your needs, and grant you a lifetime of happiness at such a young age. You might feel lost, confused, and unsure of the decision you are about to make, and that is okay! Many people, including myself, have experienced this exact same feeling. I remember thinking, “I wish I could experience a free trial run on the different careers I’m interested in, so I can make sure I choose the right one.” Thankfully, I was introduced to something that is very similar to the idea I had in mind: job shadowing.

The importance of job shadowing

Ever since the third grade, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. However, after my first year in college, I had a change of heart and began to panic about what I wanted to do. That is when I was introduced to job shadowing by my mother and my college professor. After shadowing a bunch of medical professionals, I fell in love with the occupation of cytotechnology. I loved the workplace, the people, and the job itself! I quickly switched my major and have been excited to move forward ever since.

Job shadowing is an amazing way to get a glimpse into a particular career of interest. The process allows you to follow around a trained professional and observe their everyday routine. By doing so, you familiarize yourself with the occupation, the environment, and the skills necessary for that particular job. Furthermore, it is a great opportunity to get your name out there for future reference! If you make a positive impression on the company, you may open the door to an internship or job there one day. 

When/where to start 

It is best to start job shadowing in your first year of college. By doing so, you won’t waste your time or your money pursuing a career you are unsure of. Many people tend to pull away from the idea of job shadowing due to the common misconception that it is a complicated process to start. However, this could not be farther from the truth! 

The best way to start job shadowing is by familiarizing yourself with a company and/or finding someone you know who is working at a company of interest. Ask your mother, your father, your aunts and uncles, or even your family friends about their careers and where they work. If your mother is a nurse and you are interested in becoming a doctor, ask her how to contact the local hospital to get in touch with a doctor you can shadow. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask the company if job shadowing is an option! If so, they will help walk you through the paperwork process.

What to do when job shadowing

In order to get the most out of your job shadowing experience, you have to ask questions. Ask the professional you are shadowing about what your role will be like in this career, the upsides and downsides of the job, advice about which classes would help benefit you the most, etc. The whole purpose of job shadowing is to gain information and knowledge about the career at hand, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Furthermore, being involved is a major part of job shadowing. Ask the professional if they need a hand with certain tasks, take notes on how things work and how people react to certain situations, start to build a relationship with the professionals you are working with, etc. This is your time to make a good impression, while also learning about the career itself. 

Lastly, always thank the professional for their time and for allowing you to shadow them! Whether it be face-to-face, via email, or by letter, it is important that you recognize their willingness to mentor you. Furthermore, it is a great way of letting them know their impact on your future career choice. Through your various job shadowing connections, you can gain valuable references and start building your career network.

Meet our Ambassadors!

If you are interested in getting involved in our Student Ambassador program, contact Erin Pettus at erin@collegesofdistinction.com.

Learn More About Daemen University:

Daemen University is a private, non-sectarian, co-educational comprehensive college. It was founded in 1947 as Rosary Hill College by the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity. In 1976, the College became independent and non-sectarian as it changed its name to Daemen College.