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Services for Students

Explore Career Possibilities

Informational Interviews and Job Shadowing

Choosing a career can be very intimidating. Even if you have all of the skills required for a certain career, how do you know you will be well suited for an industry? Conducting informational interviews and job shadowing professionals are great ways to get started and important experiences that will help you make a confident decision.

Informational Interviews

Informational Interviewing is an important step in the career development process. After you have researched occupations that align with your interests, skills and values, conduct informational interviews to help validate your career choices. An informational interview is not a job interview, but rather an interview with a person who is involved in some aspect of a career in which you have interest. However, like a job interview, you MUST PREPARE and BE PROFESSIONAL!

An informational interview is initiated by you. Interviewees can be relatives, family friends, internship and volunteer contacts, alumni/ae, or any professional working in your career field of interest. When setting up the interview make it clear you are interviewing for information only and not job hunting. Request 20-30 minutes of their time and be flexible.

Why conduct informational interviews?

  • Gather firsthand current information about the industry, the organization and the occupation
  • Find out about career paths and job titles
  • Determine whether an organization’s environment and culture are a good fit
  • Become a more impressive job candidate having done your “professional homework”
  • Find out what professional associations and reading material will help you gain information about your career of interest
  • Redefine your career goals to keep you on a path towards your dream career
  • Identify your weaknesses and skills you need to improve in order to be competitive in the field
  • Establish and expand your professional network

What specific questions can I ask in an informational interview or job shadow? (pdf)

Job Shadowing

Many organizations are willing to have you come in to job shadow or volunteer. The ultimate goal is to explore a career field, potential occupations and gain information about specific industries. Gathering current first-hand information will help you clarify your career path. It is also a valuable way to build up your network so you have contacts to assist in your job or internship search.

Job shadowing can be done for part of a day or an entire day, depending on staff availability within an organization. Some students are able to set up a rotational shadowing experience, which allows them to observe a variety of offices and meet many people. Job shadowing is a useful networking tool and may lead to summer internships and/or full-time employment. You do not necessarily need to know someone in the organization. A human resources staff member, a manager, or a director can help you set up a visit.

What are my responsibilities?
You should have a basic knowledge of the career field that you are interested in exploring. After you are matched to your shadow sponsor, you will be responsible for contacting them to confirm your shadow experience and what time you will be expected to arrive. You are responsible for your own transportation to and from the site, and must adhere to the dress code appropriate for the sponsor’s work environment. Most importantly, if you make a commitment to meet a sponsor for the day, YOU MUST BE THERE!

Winter Break Job Shadowing Program
The Job Shadowing/Externship program provides you an opportunity to research careers by shadowing HWS alumni or parents during Winter Break. Shadow opportunities can range from one day to two weeks and may include observing a professional or working on a special project with a business or nonprofit organization.

Job Shadowing/Externship Application (online)

Job Shadowing/Externship Application (PDF)
Deadline: October 25, 2013