There are numerous benefits to job shadowing, whether an individual is simply shadowing someone for a few hours to learn what the job entails, or as part of a lengthier training process. Students will often be given the opportunity to shadow someone for a day who is already working in their chosen career path; this allows the student to see if he or she has made a good choice, to ask any questions about the work, and to make valuable contacts for future employment prospects. When an individual is doing job shadowing as part of the training process, this allows him or her to immediately learn from real-life situations rather than simulated ones in a classroom, which generally is faster and more effective.
The most common type of job shadowing is when students will be given the opportunity to follow a professional in their chosen field for the day. Students in healthcare, for example, or in legal fields, are often given this type of job shadowing opportunity to allow them to learn a bit more about the day to day work in their chosen field, and to ask any questions they have. For many students, it can be a valuable way to affirm that they do -- or in some cases, do not -- want to pursue a certain career path.
Sometimes, it is not necessary for an individual to be a student to participate in a job shadowing program. These are also often open to individuals, women in particular, who want to learn how to better their lives and get into a new career. Perhaps the greatest benefit to people who shadow someone for the day, whether an an individual is a student or not, is the amount of contacts that he or she makes. Even if the individual does not get a great deal of work experience, he or she will generally at least have a few names and numbers for future career opportunities and job applications.
Another type of job shadowing is also known as on-the-job training. In this type, a new hire will be paired with an experienced employee either for a few hours or a few days, depending on the amount of training the job requires. The new hire will be shown real-life job situations, and will slowly be given more responsibility as his or her knowledge increases. This is a very effective way to train new employees, as opposed to training them in a classroom setting; it may also help with the retention rate of new hires.