Job shadowing (i.e. following someone whose job you’d love to do for the day/week, and seeing how they do it) is a great way of figuring out whether it’s the right career for you. Don’t just follow them around and stand really close by, though. That’s not shadowing, that’s creepy. Get the most out of your shadowing experience with some handy tips from Phoebe (who shadowed some O2 apprentices) and Nadine (who shadowed a lifeguard, yes, you read that right).
Remember: think USEFUL not CREEPY. That’s very important.
1. Ask questions. Lots of questions.
…. But obviously not too many questions – you don’t want them to end up hating you and, at least in Nadine’s case, pushing you into a large body of water. Phoebe wasn’t around any water, but she did find that asking questions really helped maximise her experience: “I found that posing a lot of questions to each of the apprentices really helped – there are so many different aspects and areas to work within the Telefonica/O2 environment, that many people (such as myself) did not even know existed before the shadowing.” Grilling them meant she came away with a good idea of what sort of things to apply for, and what job roles are available.
2. Talk to everyone you can
Don’t just chat to the person you’re shadowing, branch it out to everyone because who knows where that new contact will lead? “Talk to other members of staff – it’s an ice breaker and you may need their help. Make a good impression because you never know they may employ you later on!” says Nadine. Plus, there’s nothing more impressive than the ability to get on with lots of people. If you need some boosters to help you fake confidence, then check out our feature here.
3. Keep an open mind
Who knows what’s going to happen? Not you. So go into the shadowing experience with a “take it all in my stride” mindset to really get the most out of it all; nope, the job might not be what you’d imagined, but there could be other jobs within the company that really strike a chord with you. “You learn so much in such a short space of time – one apprentice showed and explained what a Raspberry Pi was, which was really useful.” Who knows, maybe Phoebe’ll bring up her knowledge of Raspberry Pi in a future interview, and nail a job because of it. “Don’t say no to any tasks that may get set, it helps you to develop your skills,” agrees Nadine. “If it is something you struggle with ask whoever in the office or who ever you are shadowing to help.” Then you’ve also made a new contact in the company – double whammy.
4. Throw yourself into everything
Nothing is above or below you because, while this is a great chance to get an insight into a potential job, you also need to impress who you’re shadowing. “I think you need to try make the best impression possible in front of who could obviously be a potential future employer. They’re most likely looking for someone that stands out, so do all you can to impress!” advises Phoebe. Nadine takes a more direct approach: “Get involved even if it’s just bringing in cake into the office… keep the people you’re working with sweet,” she says. Good tip – everyone’s impressed by cake.
5. Contact them after your placement
It’s really important to speak to them afterwards, in case another job comes up. You should drop them an email, though, a couple of days after you’ve finished your shadowing and say you a) enjoyed yourself loads and b) could you have some feedback? This makes you look mega proactive, and it’s also quite useful for future shadowing placements. In terms of staying in contact, Twitter is great for this – just occasionally retweet them, or respond to something they’ve posted. It keeps your on their radar without making you appear pushy.
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