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What Are the Benefits of Job Shadowing?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By disciples — On Aug 07, 2012
I have a few questions about how to job shadow. How many questions can you ask while you're shadowing? I want to know what is going on but I do not want to be a nuisance.

Also, is it improper to only shadow for half of a day?

By BAU79 — On Aug 06, 2012

Where can I find out about opportunities for job shadowing for students? I have a break coming up and no huge plans and I was thinking about shadowing in a few different industries. I am still undecided about my major but I think this might help me to make up my mind.

Is there a web site or something that has listings of shadowing opportunities? Can someone send me the link if there is one?

By nextcorrea — On Aug 05, 2012

Job shadowing can be a great way to learn about the reality of a job before you actually start working one. You will get a feel for the day to day tasks, the tone of the office or shop, the nature of your responsibilities and the difficulty of the work. It is not always easy to get an opportunity to shadow a job but it is always worth it if you can.

The best way to find out about it is to simply ask. If you are interviewing for a job or simply thinking of switching careers, ask someone who has the power to approve those kinds of decisions. If it is not hugely inconvenient they will often accept. And if you are applying for a job it can be a god way to show initiative.

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