Job shadowing, also known as externship, allows students to observe full-time professionals on-the-job and experience a typical workday or workweek. Job shadowing is a form of experiential learning where students can “try on” various work environments within their projected career fields and can gain information helpful to career decisions like choosing a major, occupation, or industry.
Get Matched with a Shadowing Opportunity Through FSUshadow
Get Matched with an Shadowing Opportunity Through FSUshadow- FSUshadow Program connects students with employers, community partners, alumni, and friends of the university for one-day job shadowing opportunities to provide exposure to a wide variety of career fields and industries. FSUshadow, planned for the 2017-2018 winter and spring break, invites all FSU undergraduate and graduate level students to participate in this program. Click here for more information.
What is job shadowing?
Job shadowing is a type of experiential learning opportunity that involves observing a working professional throughout his or her typical workday or workweek. Through direct observation, students may learn important information that can help them make career decisions like choosing a major, occupation, or industry. Job shadowing can be done in person or virtually and is sometimes called an externship. Though generally not for credit or compensation, job shadowing provides many benefits. It may help clarify career goals, connect classroom learning to real-world application, and allow for exploration of different occupations and workplace cultures. Job shadowing at a specific organization can also aid in the development of professional networking contacts that may make finding and acquiring future internships or full-time opportunities easier. A great way to identify possible contacts to job shadow is through the ProfessioNole Mentors database on SeminoleLink (www.career.fsu.edu/ProfessioNole). Speak with a Career Advisor or Career Liaison to help you learn other ways to find and acquire job shadowing experiences.
Though generally not for credit or compensation, job shadowing provides many benefits. Participation in job shadowing can:
- Help clarify career aspirations and professional goals
- Connect classroom learning to real-world application
- Allow for exploration of different occupations and workplace cultures
- Develop professional networking contacts that may make finding and acquiring future internships or full-time opportunities easier
Job shadowing is a common practice in healthcare related fields, however, some industries might not be as familiar with the concept or able to accommodate a shadow due to privacy concerns. For guidance on how to approach a potential job shadowing contact, refer to the Job Shadowing and Information Interviews Guide.
Finding and Securing Your Own Job Shadow Opportunity
Interested in participating in a job shadow opportunity outside of the FSUshadow dates? Tips and suggestions are included below:
- Use ProfessioNole Mentors, an online database of alumni and other individuals who have volunteered to participate in career-related conversations with FSU students. It can be accessed through SeminoleLink powered by Handshake under the mentoring tab. These professionals in a variety of disciplines and fields are a great resource for finding potential job shadow opportunities.
- Create a LinkedIn profile and begin building an online professional network. LinkedIn has several features that can help you connect with individuals through contacts you already have. The “find alumni” search tool is an easy way to connect with alumni of the University and to ask about potential job shadow opportunities. Additionally, The Career Center’s LinkedIn page is a good way to connect with your peers, alumni, and employers. Log in and search for FSU Career Center to join. For more information about how to get started with linkedin.com, view the “Building A LinkedIn Presence” guide.
- Ask friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, faculty, peers, and former employers — anyone you know — for opportunities to shadow in their workplace.
- Search for “job shadow” in Nole Central to see potential opportunities to shadow or networking connections through Registered Student Organizations on campus.
How to inquire about job shadow opportunities?
- State your interest in job shadowing and outline what you are hoping to gain from the experience in your initial communication. Gauge the individual’s willingness to host you. If the professional agrees, discuss and decide on the length of your job shadow and schedule your experience. After the initial conversation and scheduling, immediately follow up with the employer to confirm the experience. Confirm again 48 to 72 hours prior to your arrival.
Make the Most of Your Job Shadow Opportunity
- Enroll in the Job Shadow Recognition Program to gain recognition from The Career Center for your participation in a job shadow experience.
- Dress professionally. First impressions are always important.
- Get to the site a few minutes early and be courteous to everyone that you meet —administrative assistant, receptionist, etc.
- Once inside the organization, look around. What kind of working environment is present — dress style, communication patterns, sense of humor, etc.? Is this a place you would want to work?
- Ask open-ended questions when appropriate (questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer) to promote discussion. Additional information on questions to ask can be found in our guide on Information Interviews.
- Thank the host for taking the time to allow you to shadow. Emphasize your willingness to stay connected, and send a handwritten thank you note or personalized thoughtful email.
- Evaluate your experience: how did this experience increase your understanding of a potential career path? What do you still want to learn about the position or organization? What key take-away did you learn? How will you use this experience to help shape your career goals moving forward?