Job Shadowing: Definition, Benefits & Opportunities

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Do you ever wonder how it would be to work in a particular industry? Job shadowing is a great way to find out! You can learn about the day-to-day responsibilities of a job, what the work environment is like, and whether or not the career is a good fit for you.

Are you thinking about job shadowing? We’ve got you covered. Here, we present you the ultimate job shadowing guide, where you’ll get to know what it is, how to find a job shadowing placement, how to make the most out of your experience and much more.

Check out this blog post and find out everything you need to know!

Job shadowing- what is it?

Job shadowing is when a student or employee spends time observing someone who works in the student’s or employee’s desired field. Job shadowing gives the observer a firsthand look at what day-to-day work in the desired field looks like. It helps the observer learn about the necessary qualifications for the job and whether or not they would like to pursue a similar career.

On the other hand, job shadowing is also an optimal cross-training technique. If you’re thinking about upskilling your actual career, job shadowing will surely provide you with new insights in your career field.

You can spend a job shadowing period abroad. This way you’ll not only gain valuable insight in your career field, but through the intercultural exchange of ideas, you’ll discover new perspectives on how to tackle challenges, and gain new approaches to your work.

What is job shadowing?

The benefits of job shadowing

Job shadowing is a valuable tool for career exploration, providing insight into the day-to-day realities of a given occupation. By shadowing someone who is already working in your field of interest, you can gain a better understanding of what the job entails, what skills and knowledge are required, and what the work environment is like.

There are many benefits to job shadowing, including:

  • Improved understanding of the job and its requirements
  • Greater clarity about your career goals
  • Increased confidence in your ability to succeed in the field
  • Enhanced networking opportunities
  • Greater insight into company culture
  • New perspectives & approaches to your work
  • Improved decision-making and problem-solving skills
Job shadowing benefits

How to find a job shadowing opportunity

Arriving at this point in our blog, you can rest assured that you know what job shadowing is inside out. What you’ll probably want to know now is where you can find a shadowing placement.

Finding a job shadowing opportunity takes effort, but it’s worth to do your research and find a shadowing experience that’s a good fit for you. Here are some tips:

  • Do your research. To get the right placement, it’s imperative to research the industry you want to pursue the job shadowing placement in. Being aware of all the nuances the industry comprises helps you narrow down the companies you’d want to work at.

    Don’t forget to research the company you’re applying to. Be aware of their vision, mission and values, and see if they align with yours. Afterall, you’re trying to find your tune and decide whether or not the job suits you.
  • Reach out to your university’s career service office or look for a career counselor. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, these people surely know what you’re looking for.
  • Reach out to your network. Talk to family and friends, or even LinkedIn connections, to see if anyone knows someone who would be willing to let you shadow them at work. If you don’t have any personal connections, don’t worry – there are other ways to find opportunities (continue reading).
  • Look for programs. Some companies and organizations offer formal job shadowing programs. Do a search online or contact the Human Resources departments at companies that interest you to see if they offer any programs or opportunities. Also look outside the corporate world. Some state organizations have programs dedicated to specific job shadowing opportunities, like the Erasmus Plus program within the EU.
  • Cold email or call. If all else fails, reach out directly to someone at the company or organization where you’d like to shadow. Explain what you’re looking for and why you think it would be beneficial for both of you. Include your resume so they can get an idea of your skills and experience, and be sure to follow up after sending your initial email or making your call.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Job shadowing is quite a new phenomenon in the work market, therefore some companies might not offer it straight on their careers page. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re not open to having somebody shadow at their workplace. If you’re unsure, just ask.

How to make the most of a job shadowing experience?

If you’re considering job shadowing, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience:

  • Dress professionally. When you show up for your job shadow, dress as you would for an interview or day on the job. At the end of the day, the way we dress is certainly a form of communication with the world around us, and you want to show that you’re serious about learning more about the occupation.
  • Ask questions. Job shadowing is not simply about observing – it’s about getting involved and asking questions. Be sure to make use of this opportunity to learn as much as you can about the job, the industry, and the company. Don’t know what to ask? Try these:
    • Can you describe your typical working day?
    • What are the greatest challenges present in this job?
    • What’s the career journey? What are the opportunities for career growth for this job?
    • What are some of the key things in this role I need to know?
    • What piece of advice would you have loved to hear before starting this job?
  • Network for your future. Setting foot in your career field of interest gives you the chance to start building up your contact network. Try to mingle with your colleagues, meet the right people, be kind and stay connected. Having friends in your field of work can be extremely helpful, especially afterwards, when job hunting.
  • Take notes. Keep a record of your learning process. Note any breakthroughs you had, any information you found interesting, but also any negative aspects – if there’re any. Be conscious, and try to paint a realistic picture of your experience

The challenges of job shadowing

While job shadowing can be a valuable experience, there are a few challenges that you should be aware of before you embark on your shadowing journey.

A challenge you’ll definitely face is finding your job shadowing placement. As we said earlier, job shadowing is a new phenomenon. This means that some companies might as you imagined, but with dedication, you’ll definitely find a job shadowing position.

The next challenge depends solely on your attitude: making sure you’re learning something. It’s easy to just sit back and observe without taking an active role in your learning, so it’s up to you if you genuinely want to make the most out of your experience.

Finally, shadowing can sometimes be repetitive or boring, especially if you are shadowing someone who has a relatively routine job. It’s important to remember that not all jobs are glamorous, and even the most boring jobs can teach you something about the work world. Stay engaged and curious, and remember that even the most mundane tasks can give you insights into the inner workings of a company.

Job shadowing etiquette – what to do and what not to do

When job shadowing, it’s important to remember that you’re a guest in someone else’s workplace. Needless to say, you should always be on your best behavior and treat the employees and customers with respect. Here are some other etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  • Arrive on time or earlier
  • Dress appropriately for the workplace
  • Be respectful of other’s time
  • Don’t monopolize the person you’re shadowing
  • At the end of the day, thank the person for their time
  • Make sure to send a thank-you note at the end of your job shadowing experience

The different types of job shadowing

On-the-job shadowing

The best way to learn about a certain job is to shadow someone who is already doing it. On-the-job shadowing involves following someone around at work and observing what they do on a day-to-day basis. It’s a great way to get an insight into what the job entails and whether it’s something you’d be interested in doing.

Virtual job shadowing

Virtual job shadowing is a newer form of job shadowing that’s becoming increasingly popular, thanks to technology. With virtual job shadowing, you shadow someone remotely via video-conferencing and screen-sharing software, such as Skype. This allows you to shadow someone who doesn’t work near you, which can be really useful if you’re interested in a job that’s not in your local area.

Other forms of virtual job shadowing entail learning through videos or even accessing virtual work experience programs. If these interest you, make sure to check out theforage.com, one of the best work experience tools available. The best part, it’s free!

Job rotations

Job rotations are similar to on-the-job shadowing, but they tend to be longer and more structured. With job rotations, you spend a set period of time (usually several weeks or months) working in different departments or areas of a business. This gives you a well-rounded overview of the company and how it works, which can be really beneficial if you’re considering applying for a position there.

FAQ’S about job shadowing

What is job shadowing?

Job shadowing is an opportunity to spend time observing someone at their job in order to learn more about a particular career or company. It is usually a short-term arrangement, lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Who can job shadow?

Anyone! However, it is often seen as a valuable tool for students who are exploring their career options, or for those who are considering a career change. Job shadowing can also be beneficial for adults who are unemployed or underemployed, as it can help them gain new skills and insight into potential career paths.

What are the benefits of job shadowing?

  • Gaining first-hand knowledge about a particular career or company
  • Learning new skills
  • Creating a network with professionals in your field of interest
  • Improving your resume
  • Increasing your confidence

What’s the difference between internship and job shadowing?

The major difference between an internship and work shadowing is that during an internship you learn by doing, in other words you get to actively participate in the company’s life and work. Job shadowing on the other hand adopts a more passive role, since it solely focuses on learning by observing.

Another difference is that internships tend to last longer. While an internship lasts from a few weeks to months, job shadowing positions only last from a few hours to a few days.

Is job shadowing paid?

Job shadowing positions are not paid, since you don’t provide any kind of work to the company in return for their teaching service.

How long should my job shadowing spell be?

The length of your shadowing period depends on the role you want to learn more about, and your learning objectives.

Job Shadowing on Tenerife

Now that you know what job shadowing is from the inside out, you’re probably wondering where to start looking for a shadowing opportunity. If you’re an EU citizen and a vocational education training (VET) teacher, we’ve got something for you.

You’ve probably already heard about the Erasmus + program before, the exchange program that supports education, training and youth throughout the entire European Union.

When we think about Erasmus, we often picture students spending their first long-term period of time abroad. However, who said it was only for students?

The Erasmus + program also allows professionals to participate in international exchange projects, for example through their job shadowing projects for VET teachers and non-teaching staff.

Now that you’re aware this option exists, imagine spending your work shadowing experience on a tropical island, surrounded by lush nature and black-sand beaches…

We’re Career Bridge Europe, a small company located in Tenerife (Spain) that acts as a mediator between you, and your professional dreams. We dedicate ourselves to provide young students and professionals with quality work-based learning opportunities here in the heart of the Canary Islands.

If you’d like to participate in the Erasmus+ job shadowing program with us, here are a few things that you need to know:

  • Duration of the program: 2 days to 2 months
  • Who is it for? VET teachers and non-teaching staff
  • Who can apply? Individual application cannot be considered, your center needs to apply for the mobility project, and chooses the teachers who will embark on the mobility project
  • What do you need? Your education center needs to be part of a youth mobility project with another educational institution in the host country
  • How can your education center partner with another institution? Simple, through us. Here is where we jump in and start doing our magic. We’re on the other end of the mobility program, supporting you in every step of the way, and connecting you with the excellent hosting institutions where you’ll be job shadowing at.

We support you through every step of the way, so that the only thing you’ll need to worry about is to remember to pack your swimsuit, and not miss your flight. We organize your future accommodation at one of our local partners, and we make sure that all your needs are met.

So what are you waiting for?

Go abroad, broaden your horizons, challenge your own personal and professional status quo, and have an unforgettable experience in the island of the ever-lasting spring with us, Career Bridge Europe.

Visit our website to learn more about our programs, and your potential job shadowing future here in Tenerife.

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How Can We Help You Grow?

At CareerBridge Europe, we organize international mobility programmes, such as internships, trainings, seminars, study visits and more. Get in touch with us to see how can we help you boost your career.