Recently I was speaking with a family friend who’s a junior in high school, and we were talking about her plans for the future. Right now she’s in that pivotal year where she’s shifting away from the high school mindset and starting to think about college. She’s already making a list of possible schools and scheduling campus visits for this fall and next spring.
When I asked her what she was thinking about studying, she told me she’s looking at nursing programs and possibly becoming a pediatric nurse. She also mentioned that she’s been trying to find a current nurse she might be able to interview or job shadow so that she can get a better idea of what the job is actually like.
This is a great idea. Job shadowing can help you learn more about a particular career and decide if it’s right for you before you invest so much time and money in your education. Of course, you want to be sure to be prepared with some questions you can ask them so that you’re sure to get the most out of the experience.
The following are just some of the questions you might want to ask your job shadow subject.
What do you like about your job?
This is a good one to start with. Ideally you want someone who really loves their job. That way you can see if you share the same passion.
What don’t you like about it?
No one likes every aspect of their job. This question can help you determine if you can live with the negatives of the position or if you really should consider another line of work.
Can you describe a typical day at work?
It’s always good to know what a typical day is like, from start to finish. Of course, not every day will be the same, but this will give you a general idea of the day-to-day details of the job and if it’s something you can see yourself doing over a long period of time.
What’s the hardest part about your job?
This may be the most important question you ask. Before you choose any career, you need to what’s hard about it and whether or not it’s something you’ll be able handle.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced at work?
Here you’re asking for a specific instance when the person was tested or pushed to his or her limit. You may or may not have a similar experience if you choose to pursue this career, but you should still know what types of challenges you might face if you do.
What are the advancement/growth opportunities?
When you’re planning your career, you don’t want to pick a line of work that will remain stagnant and lose your interest; you want to be sure your chosen vocation is one that will allow you to evolve over time. Find out what, if any, opportunities exist that will allow you to continually grow as a person and build a fulfilling career.
Is there anything you wish you would’ve done to better prepare yourself?
This question can help you to avoid regret years down the road. Right now you’ve got so many resources around you to help you prepare properly for your career. Utilize this question to make sure you're taking advantage of everything at your disposal.
What skills are the most important in your job?
A lot of times you really don’t know what skills are the most important in your chosen career until you’re working in the field. Find out what these skills are now so that you can focus more time studying and mastering them while you’re still in school.
What’s something that most people don’t know about this career?
No matter how much education you get on a particular career, there are just some things you won’t find out until you’re on the job. Learn as much as you can about the unknowns of your chosen career path now, so that you can be prepared for them when the time comes.
If you could do it all over, would you choose this career again?
Look, it’s not easy choosing a career. Sometimes you think you know what you want to do with your life, but then after a few years you realize it’s just not the right fit for you. Ask the person to be honest with you about how they really feel about their job. Depending on what they say, it could either change your mind about the career path or give you the encouragement you need to pursue it after all.