Job Shadowing for a Day with a Skilled Trade
So, you are getting close to the end of your schooling, and you have decided to go into one of the skilled trades for your career. You may even already have an idea of what trade industry you want to work in – that’s great!
Whether you have already decided on a career path, or are still looking at options, a great way to learn more about what it’s like working in a specific trade is to do a job shadow with someone in that field.
Job shadowing is when you accompany a professional during their workday, to see what sort of tasks and activities their job involves. When you are learning about a prospective career, internet research, books, and other resources are very useful, but there are always some aspects of a job that need to be seen and experienced in person to give you a real sense of what it would be like to work in a specific trade.
Spending time with a working professional makes it easier to get accurate, first-hand information about the job responsibilities, and the industry itself. You also have the opportunity to ask questions one-on-one with someone who is an expert in the field. As well, even though you will be shadowing with one person, you will have the opportunity to meet other people working other positions and in other departments. This is a great chance to network and make connections in the company and trade industry, which can be valuable contacts later on when you are looking for an internship or other career opportunity. Seeing how the employees of a company interact will also give you an idea of the company culture and dynamics.
Not sure how to find and arrange a job shadow opportunity? Your first option is to check with your school guidance counselor or careers teacher, as they likely have a good idea of people or companies suitable to hosting a student job shadow. You can also ask someone you know personally, such as a family member or family acquaintance, if they or someone they work with would be interested in taking a job shadow with them for a day. You may also feel more comfortable spending the time with someone you are familiar with, and therefore be more relaxed and willing to ask questions or participate in work activities.
Lastly, you can approach someone at the company directly, such as through their human resources department, to inquire if they have done job shadowing opportunities before. Many companies in the trades also have co-op and youth apprenticeship programs, and so are likely to have someone willing to take you as a job shadow- don’t be afraid to ask!
Most importantly, when you are out on your job shadow, remember to be enthusiastic and interested. Whomever you shadow with, they are willing to spend valuable time in order to share their job, their experience, and their interest with you, so be sure to return the favour. Have fun shadowing!