Questions to Ask the Person You’re Job Shadowing

A student walking down the sidewalk with a visible shadow, shown from the waist down.

Flickr user Mle-mle

If you have a job shadowing appointment coming up soon, you’ll absolutely want to take a few minutes ahead of time to plan. This includes coming up with questions for your contact. Here are just a few general questions you’ll want to ask.

What is a day like in this position?

This is one of the first questions you’ll want to ask. After all, depending on how long you’re shadowing the job for, you may be experiencing the day yourself. You’ll want to know what to expect. You’ll also start to get an idea if it meets your expectations of the job. You may find it was nothing like you imagined.

Is the job what you thought it would be?

After you know the day to day operations in your potential future career, you can start asking more in-depth and perhaps personal questions. Everyone has expectations heading into a new job, career choice, or industry. That’s exactly why you’re job shadowing! You’re seeing if it meets your dream of what the job is like. Your contact can give you the best answer as to what their expectations were and how the position meets them.

You can also ask what attracted them to this industry and their particular position in the first place.

Do you enjoy what you do?

This is a pretty straightforward question, but one you should definitely ask, especially after questioning their expectations. The job may have turned out nothing like they imagined and they could give you valuable insight into your own plans. However, keep in mind that what they enjoy and what you enjoy may be vastly different!

What do you like about the job?

This should be another question you follow up with, after asking if they enjoy what they do. They can name the specifics that may interest you.

What don’t you like about the job?

This second follow up can give you a more in-depth feel at what may be a more mundane aspect of the industry and career. Again, keep an open mind, as your contact may not enjoy what you find interesting.

What major and classes do you recommend in college?

Once you start a new job, you quickly start to learn which courses were most helpful to you in college. Your contact can give you excellent recommendations as to which classes help them most in their current career.

You may also find that a similar, but slightly different major may boost your efforts in finding a position in your choice of career.

How did you get this job?

Job shadowing gives you a great opportunity to pick your contact’s brain when it comes to the job itself, but also how to get the job. They could have solid advice on how to apply, what places to apply to, and the contacts to make within the industry.

You’ll also want to ask how long it took them to get hired and find this particular position! What are job prospects like straight out of college?

These are only a few generalized questions you’ll be wanting to ask your job shadowing contact. Each industry, position, and major is different, so make sure you’re asking more specialized questions during your time with them in addition to these. Brainstorming before your job shadowing appointment starts is a great way to find the questions and answers that matter most to you, your college experience, and your future.

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