A checklist for hosts.

It is great you are planning some time with people to help them ‘get a taste’ of what a career in your industry or field of knowledge looks like. Job shadows are the lighter version of an internship. When an internship typically requires the student to contribute as well, the job shadow is primarily focused on offering insights and experience to the student who is exploring the right career direction.

This guideline is set up for both online and real life programs *

Apart from helping students in making better informed decisions on what career paths they might pursue, there’s also something in it for you.

  • Staying in touch with younger generations. Get a sense for what drives them, motivates them. As employers we often want to make sure we stay connected with youth and young adults, as customers, or as potential employees. This is a chance.
  • Position yourself as an employer. Remember that with most young people, they only have a generic idea about the type of work environment or career prospect an organization has to offer. A Career In Program offers a great chance to share your attractiveness as an employer. Young people tend to quickly ‘spread the word’ after they’ve met you.
  • Get access to potential candidates. You might meet people who appear to be excellent candidates for internships or jobs in your organization.

What structure does a job shadow have ?

A Job shadow (Career In Program) is typically done in 4-5 sessions of about 30 – 60 minutes each. You typically include 1 to 5 students for a program. If you can spend more time with the student(s), please do so!  What we have often seen is that all sessions are done on a fixed time of the week, like Monday afternoons between 2 and 5 pm. 

1st session: The first session will be hosted by yourself or a colleague who will provide an overview of the company, organization, or agency, their career path, and who the student(s) will be meeting with in subsequent sessions. Things to consider are size and complexity in numbers; key challenges and trends and types of backgrounds of your employees. 

Subsequent sessions: Up to four employees who perform different jobs and ideally represent different professions will meet with the student(s) in separate sessions to: describe what they do and how and their career pathways (stories are encouraged).  Each session will typically last for up to 1 hour, and up to half the time should be devoted to answering student questions.

The employer or colleague is encouraged to cover the type of competencies they look for in their employees and during job interviews.

Last session: It’s a Q & A for participants. And an exchange contact details.

Checklist to prepare well

  1. Prepare agendas for each session. Include a good mix of providing information and work-experience. Create short presentations, but foremost, prepare some great stories about your career pathway.
  2. Make the overview of your organizaton useful for your audience. Besides telling the student(s) what you do and how, cover ‘what’s in it for them.’ Look at the sessions as a recruitment opportunity for future employees. What career prospects can you offer; what’s the outlook for the kind of industry you’re in.
  3. Inform your team about the person or people ‘visiting’. Make the student feel welcome. Prepare your team to take this very serious.

Making it successful

When you start your first meeting, this is what you can do to make the experience a good one.

  1. Welcome them. Share the agenda for the program.
  2. Throughout the program, make sure to balance talking with asking. Consider a Job Shadow (Career In Program) as “coaching-light”. It’s not only about sharing what real life work looks like, it’s also about making the visitors question themselves what they actually should pursue as a career.

What elements to cover

A successful job shadow comes down to ‘show’ and ‘tell’. It best includes information sharing about the industry or field of expertise, the organization, as well as a look inside the jobs and careers.

Again, make sure to ask your guest(s) what their experience is in the area of expertise, and take it from there. Offer a good overview of things, share your personal likes and dislikes.

And bring them along. Show them your screen, the tools you use, bring them into a meeting. have colleagues share how they contribute to the organization. Of course, it very much depends on what role the Career In Program concerns, but think of an effective way to get them that ‘look inside’ they would only get by meeting with you.

Paint a realistic ‘Day in the Life’. Share the amount of hours a week you typically make. How does your ‘work life balance’ looks like. What’s the ‘life style’ that typically belongs to the kind of jobs you’ve had?

Conclude and stay in touch

At the end of the program, make sure to wrap it up nicely.

You may want to offer to stay in touch and serve as a reference for future job shadows or internships.

Make the guest(s) leave as ambassadors for your organization.

Make it work for students

We developed a simple model that offers the 4 key angles to any job, relevant for students who are exploring careers. Take it as a simple checklist to make sure you offer relevant information to the student.

SPPL model © FindMino.com

SKILLS: What is required to get there, in skills, knowledge, attitudes, competencies, what makes you stand out, what kind of education paths are recommended.

PLACE: How does an average workweek look like in terms of work location. How static or dynamic is it. How much variety in location is there. How much do you spend behind your screen, how much are you ‘on the road’.

PEOPLE: How does your interaction with people look like in the job. What kind of interactions do you have. Is the job more ‘on your own’ or more teamwork by nature? What are the nice people parts, what are the more challenging people parts.

LIFESTYLE. What does your typical work week look like in terms of working hours, deadlines, pressure. How much stress is there in the job. How is the lifestyle you can typically afford in this job or career in terms of (for instance) house you can buy or vacations you can take.

*Please follow Covid-19 guidelines to decide doing the meetings online or in real life.

Further Resources

8 qualities of a good mentor.

If you want to be a great mentor do these 5 things

How to be an amazing job-shadow host