Work Shadowing

Did you have a good summer? What did you get up to? Many of you will have worked throughout, perhaps upping the hours at your part-time job or taking temp roles ? And some of you will have had a summer long internship. Or you may have volunteered to gain experience in areas such as the caring professions or in media. And I’m sure some of you were lucky enough to travel overseas to work or volunteer.

If you did any of these things then you have most likely had a productive summer in terms of developing your skills. It might have even helped you gain an insight into a favoured area of work therefore helping you decide on your future career path.

As we approach the new academic year, your focus will be shifting back to balancing your studies with a part-time job and extracurricular activities. However, there could still be some semester time activities for you to gain further insights into different jobs and how you fit these. Many employers run short options such as Insight Programmes, Spring Weeks and Open Days but you could also consider arranging some Work Shadowing which can be an invaluable way to explore your career ideas as well as offering some experience of that role.

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What are the benefits?

Work shadowing means learning about a job role by observing at close hand someone in their daily tasks. It won’t take up much of your time – just a day or two is the norm or
even an hour or two over a number of weeks, but in this short space of time you can learn a Classroom_lfascinating amount about the role. This will help you decide if it is right for you and all the more so if you volunteer for appropriate tasks during your placement. Helping out will also make a good impression on the host and therefore improve your chances if you decide to apply for jobs there when you graduate.

Work shadowing is also a great networking opportunity – if you speak to as many people as you can during this time and remember to connect with them all on LinkedIn afterwards.

Another bonus of work shadowing is that it looks great on your CV as it shows strong motivations to employers. In competitive sectors this can really make you stand out from the crowd.

Any issues I should consider?

Work shadowing is not be possible in all jobs due to issues such as confidentiality or health and safety. But if you cannot shadow your target role then perhaps you could shadow other roles in that workplace which will still give you a good insight and hopefully allow you to come in to contact with people in your target role.untitled

You will also need to plan this in advance with the host employer to find a time that is suitable for them.  There may also be background checks that need to be completed in advance. For example, if it is a role where you come into contact with children you will most likely need to complete a Disclosure form which can take some time to be processed.

How do I make this happen?

Work shadowing is usually arranged through a speculative approach which means you have to approach the employer direct and ask them for this opportunity. Very few work shadowing placements are advertised. This may sound challenging for you but it happens all the time so no-one will be surprised or think you are pushy for asking.

In small companies it may be easier to find the right person to ask as they often have staff lists on their website. If it is a bigger organisation it may be more difficult to find individuals to host your placement as they don’t always have an online staff directory.

To make it easier to find the right person, use your existing network of friends, family and other students – you might be surprised how quickly you make contact with someone. Using LinkedIn or The Network could make it easier and quicker to locate the right person. If all else fails, contact the reception or HR department and ask if they can put you in contact with someone in the right department – it doesn’t always work but can be effective.

If you want a chat with one of us before you start, make an appointment with a Careers Manager.

Good luck and I’m sure you will have a great time!

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