One of the best ways to explore a potential career choice is by speaking with and/or following someone who works in that career.
Do an information interview. Learn first-hand about your chosen profession by asking questions about tasks, business environment, and educational background.
Shadow a professional. Follow someone in your career choice as they go through a typical day on the job. Ask questions and observe the work.
Finding a Profession(al)
Finding someone to interview or shadow is not difficult. Ask your friends, co-workers, parents, and others in your personal network if they know someone you can interview. Ask your professors for recommendations of professionals in the field. Utilize LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking service. Also, various Crown College offices (e.g. Career Services/OCS and External Relations) have alumni and employer contacts that might be willing to help in your career exploration.
Next, call or email requesting an information interview or job shadow. People who like their jobs tend to enjoy talking about them. You compliment the professional by expressing an interest in the career. In your phone call or email, explain how you found the person you want to interview and request time for an appointment. Emphasize that you want to find out more about the career—you’re not looking for a job. If you’re fortunate, the professional you contact may have other colleagues you can also interview.
Takes notes during your time with the professional. Here are some questions you might ask:
- What is your typical workday like?
- What do you like most (and least) about your job?
- What skills/abilities are most important to succeed in this job?
- What is your educational background?
- How did you get started in this field?
- What courses were most helpful to you and which would you recommend?
- What is the best way to get started in this field?
- Do you have any additional advice to help me prepare?
Follow up Your Interview or Job Shadow
Review your notes. What was your impression? Did you leave feeling as if you can envision a future in this occupation, or were you discouraged—i.e. you don’t feel you learned enough about the occupation or the job description doesn’t sound appealing any longer?
Take your thoughts and concerns to a mentor or OCS staff and get feedback on the next step to take in your career exploration. You may want to do additional information interviews in this career path, or you may want to reexamine your goals and find a different path for your talents and interests.
No matter what you decide, send a thank-you email or note to anyone you interview or shadow. Whether you decide to forge ahead on that career path or find another one, this professional may be a good person to network with when you begin your job search.
Source material: National Association of Colleges and Employers
Darren L. Noble, M.A. Director, Crown College Office of Career Services (OCS)→ Engage. Envision. Equip. Connect with OCS via: [email protected] │ 952.446.4352 Visit the “Crown Career Network,” our online career resource/posting system. Additionally, use our system to write a well-crafted resume/cover letter, read career articles, listen to podcasts, create a professional portfolio, and much more!