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 you may be shadowing one particular member of staff or one team, or you may get a chance to shadow different members of staff from entirely different departments.
Work shadowing allows you to find out what a job involves before committing to it. By talking a particular member of staff and watching them go about their work, you will be able to better understand what their job role entails. You will also be given an insight into the industry and company that they work for. This will help you to decide whether you are interested in working in that role or sector and, therefore, which subjects and pathways to choose for the remainder of your education. The understanding you will gain of the role and industry can also be useful in preparing for future applications or interviews.
Work shadowing is particularly useful if you 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 showing you a number of different roles within the same company or the same job but within very different settings (eg. a community nurse and an A&E nurse).
How to find a Scheme:
To find work shadowing you may have to ask your school, local organisations or personal contacts. If you are really interested in shadowing at a particular company, email their HR manager because, as long as the company is not too big, 9 times out of 10 they will be more than happy to see you,even if it is just for a meeting.
If you want to find out which of your organisations offer work experience, check our Eluceo network.