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Why Job Shadowing Is the Key to a Successful Career

Wouldn't you like to "test-drive" a career before committing to it, much like you do when buying a car? In case you didn't know, you absolutely can and it's called job shadowing. We'll take a look at what job shadowing is, whom it's for, and why it's the bee's knees when it comes to choosing a promising career.

Wouldn’t you like to “test-drive” a career before committing to it, much like you do when buying a car? In case you didn’t know, you absolutely can and it’s called job shadowing. We’ll take a look at what job shadowing is, whom it’s for, and why it’s the bee’s knees when it comes to choosing a promising career.

following in their footsteps

(Photo Credit: Jean-Fracois Chenier/Flickr)

Job shadowing is, quite literally, shadowing a professional whose occupation you wish to assume later on in your own career. By “shadowing” this person, you are exposed to the day-to-day job responsibilities and tasks that this individual performs so that you can get a better idea of what to expect in the real world for that given occupation. Why is this important? First-hand experience in the working world is much different than what you’ll learn in a textbook. Job shadowing provides you with that real world experience that can help you figure out what you do and don’t want out of your career.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Too often, people choose the wrong careers for various reasons, and they end up resenting their choice because their idea of what they thought their dream career would be, simply didn’t match up with the realities and demands of the career itself. A great way to prevent this from occurring (or continuing to occur) in your life is to test-drive a career of your choice and see if it’s right for you. No harm, no foul.

Students, especially, are encouraged to start their job shadowing early on in their collegiate careers to help them select a major that best suits their personalities, interests, and goals. This is an invaluable experience for students because they will be exposed not only to different occupations of their choice, but also to the different ways each company operates and its respective company culture. What good is landing your dream career, but despising your employer or boss? Being in the trenches as a job shadower allows students to be exposed to these elements first-hand, and will help encourage them to make more educated decisions about their career paths based on their individual experiences.

Job shadowing isn’t just for students, it’s also tremendously beneficial as on-the-job-training for professionals to advance their careers with their current employers. For instance, an employee is offered a new, higher-level position in a new department and would like more exposure to the day-to-day responsibilities of said position. Job shadowing, or on-the-job-training, is a perfect solution to provide this employee the opportunity to perform the new job functions before signing on the dotted line.

The “try before you buy sign” is the way to go when it comes to choosing a career that is just as fulfilling as it is financially appealing. Even if you’re mid-career, it’s not too late to make the change — here’s a guide on how to make the switch smoothly. It’s estimated that you’ll spend approximately a third of your lifetime working, so it’s important to make a well-informed decision about how you’ll spend your working days. After all, this is your life — make it a good one!

Tell Us What You Think

Whose job would you like to shadow for a day and why? Share your answers with our community on Twitter and join the conversation.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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Unfortunately, for an existing employee the “job shadowing” normally occurs after you have accepted “said position” and the opportunity is not available to just try before you buy. Primarily, because most employers aren’t going to just give you time off of their clocks to pursue other interests even if they are within the same organization. First because of the negative impact to their own departments productivity. In a day where everyone is dropped like a hot potato whenever the organization has the inclination to do so managers aren’t willing to lose any productivity. If you were offered the position and… Read more »

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