How teens can get job experience through job shadowing

Job shadowing is a very apt word for the process that teenagers use to get direct and detailed information on what a job entails. As the phrase implies, job shadowing means that you will have to shadow the person doing his/her job so you understand how things are done, and how things are done first hand. Though this could be a bit idealistic, job shadowing will give the teenager sufficient insight in the job they choose to take up, to be able to judge whether they can do it well or not.

There are however some plus and minus points to this process - and I will try to cover some of them hereunder:

The pros

  • 1. Job shadowing will enable to watch a person actually working. You can see how the person reacts, interacts and how things are done. You will not only gain first hand exposure to the job but also environment in which the job is done. Many times these two are poles apart and job shadowing can enable you to judge whether you can do justice to it.
  • 2. Job shadowing will introduce you to a world of interaction with people - on an official basis. Skills in official communication are extremely important in a job.
  • 3. Job shadowing will expose you to the nitty gritty of the job - which otherwise you would have not known.
  • 4. Job shadowing can teach a few tricks of the trade through observation only. People in a job will have worked out wonderful ways to cut time and save money in their jobs - when you shadow you will inadvertently stumble upon these 'short-cuts' which can prove priceless in the job as a newcomer.
  • 5. Job shadowing will show you whether you are compatible or not with the job - it is a good way of testing your fit to the job.

The Cons

  • 1.Job shadowing - even if it done for a week - will not catch the person really behaving as they would without you around. A person behaves slightly different with a audience and hence you may not really catch the slighter nuances of the job
  • 2.The very limited time job shadowing involves sometimes may distort the real picture; you see the job through some perspective which actually may not be the actual reality.
  • 3.Job shadowing may expose to 'best practices' that actually do not really exist; the person whom you are shadowing may like to put on their best foot forward and not expose you to the reality.
  • 4.The brief time exposure may make the job look better than it is.

Look at the above and be aware of both the pros and cons when using job shadowing as a yard stick to decide your career. This is an easy way to learn, true - but it is also too short a time to really give a real insight. If you really want to learn about the job, offer yourself to work with person (with or without wages) for a longer period (you can choose to come every evening, or a few hours every day, or use your summer holidays for it). Only when you will be hand-on on a job you will really get the feel for it. Till then, job shadowing can give you a bird's view in what you can expect from the job you choose.