Work-Shadowing involves meeting a professional and observing them as they go about their everyday tasks. Normally work shadowing lasts a few days but it can be extended to a couple of weeks. It is almost always unpaid. Depending on the length and structure of the scheme candidates may be shadowing one particular member of staff or one team, or they may get a chance to shadow different members of staff from entirely different departments.
Work shadowing allows young people to find out what a job involves before committing to it. By talking to a particular member of staff and watching them go about their work they will gain an insight into what their job role entails, and the industry and company that they work for. This will help them to decide whether they are interested in working in that role or sector and, therefore, which subjects and pathways to choose for the remainder of their education. The understanding young people gain of the role and industry can also be useful in preparing for future applications or interviews.
Work shadowing is particularly useful for students who are interested in a career which usually does not offer work experience, because it is too dangerous or specialised, such as medicine. Longer, more varied schemes can also be very helpful, in showcasing a number of different roles within the same company or the same job but within very different settings (e.g. a community nurse and an A&E nurse).
How to find a Scheme:
Your child’s school and local organisations may be able to set up some work shadowing for them. In addition, you could probably help them through your own personal or professional contacts. Encourage them to get in touch directly with companies that they are interested in, because, as long as the company's not too big it is highly likely that somebody will be happy to see them, even if it is just for a meeting.
If you want to find out which of your local organisations offer work experience, check our Eluceo network.