Job Shadow and Informational Interviews

Posted on March 5th, 2013 by

3/5/13, By E. W.
Job shadowing and informational interviews can be very helpful when figuring out your career path. To do either, however, you must first understand the difference. Job shadowing is when you basically act as a shadow: you follow someone around as he or she goes about a regular day. You simply observe and ask questions as you go. An information interview is just sitting down with a person in the field and asking them questions about his or her career. Depending on how serious you are about a certain career path may determine which strategy you use to learn more.
Once you decide whether to shadow of conduct an interview, you need to find someone in the field who can answer your questions. Ask friends and family if they know anyone. If all else fails, hit the phonebook or internet. When you do find someone, contact them through an email or over them phone and explain to them what you want. Make sure to be clear that you are not looking for a job but rather an opportunity to learn more about a certain career.
 After an appointment is set up, begin doing some research of your own. If you are already interested in that job as a possible career, you probably know something about it. Nevertheless, you can always learn more. And what you can’t learn from research should lead into the questions that you will ask the person with whom you are meeting.
When you have completed the interview or shadow, review your notes. Did what you hear make you more curious about the job? Is this something you want to pursue further? Or maybe this isn’t what you want to spend your life doing? Take time to consider what you learned and what it means for your future. And while you’re mulling it over, make sure to take the time to thank anyone who gave up their time. Sending a thank you letter is polite and highly recommended. It might also help expand your network for future career endeavors.

 

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