Job shadowing is a way for you to "test out" a possible career or vocation. When you are job shadowing, you follow someone throughout their workday, or maybe for a few hours of their workday, to get an idea of what their career or vocation is really like.

Sometimes, job shadowing shows you what you won't like about a career or vocation. Example: You like to build things and you also like being outdoors, so you want to learn about being a civil engineer, because they build bridges, roads, and water systems. It seems a perfect fit for what you like to do, so you arrange to spend a day job-shadowing a civil engineer.

During the day, you might find that a large part of your time is spent indoors in an office building: working on plans, doing math, attending meetings, and reading regulations and job specifications. If this "indoors" part of civil engineering didn't fit your desires, you may want to change your path, explore other aspects of civil engineering, or other outdoor work that involved building things. For example, you might want to learn more about being a heavy equipment operator.

The point is that job shadowing can give you a real-life perspective of what the day-to-day routine of that career will mean to you. Job shadowing can also open your eyes to possible careers that you may NOT have considered. It's a relatively easy way to scope out vocational possibilities, and increase your career options.

How do you find Job Shadowing opportunities? You might be surprised how willing people are to allow you to job shadow them at their work. Some businesses, and even governmental agencies, will actually encourage their employees to allow job shadowing. Ask your parents, or their friends, or a faculty member at your school, for contacts who might allow you to job shadow them. Your local Rotary, Kiwanis, or other service clubs might also be able to point you in the right direction. Picking the right career or vocation will take some work, so be prepared to devote time to finding job shadow opportunities. We would especially encourage you to seek job shadowing in careers you are totally unfamiliar with. This is the time in your life to start exploring, and stretching your imagination about your career path.

If you have questions about different careers, or job shadow opportunities, go to our [Contact us] form, and one of us Rotarians will try to help you with your questions.

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Job Shadowing vs. Interning

You may have heard another term, internship, which is similar to job shadowing. Job shadowing is generally very brief (hours/days), whereas internships usually run from weeks to months. Job shadowing gives you a quick glimpse of the what a career or vocation might involve. Internship usually means you will actually work at the job, under the guidance of an experienced person.