Ever thought about what job your degree will help create? Got an idea of what you want to do post-graduation but unsure? Join the club. Universities know that in our globalized and tech savvy world today, there are a lot of options available for graduates than what used to be advertised. Niche markets and expansions in a variety of fields such as technology have widened the job spectrum from traditional occupations such as financial advising to new fields such as lifestyle blogging. Whichever path you choose, there’s still a ton of various different positions and employers, as well as locations and other choices that are available to you, and sometimes, that can be quite overwhelming for the newly graduated.

Universities are recognizing that too, and in an effort to help their graduates find meaningful employment, they’re focusing on new programs called “work shadowing,” which allow students to try their hand at certain occupations they feel they may be interested in for a few days, no strings attached.

How it works

If your school offers a work shadowing program, you will apply to the program, and if you are accepted, you will be able to choose from a number of “shadow days.” These “shadow days” can be as short as a single work day, or as long as several weeks, depending on what you want to see at the occupation and how long of a time frame you have. Usually these days will be scheduled over the summer break from June to August, however, some universities have begun to offer long weekends and school breaks as well to lend more options to students, particularly to those who have internships or summer employment.

You’ll follow around an industry professional for your given length of time, and unlike an internship, this can’t really go on your CV nor will you do any work whatsoever. However, this does offer you a chance to get a very real glimpse into what could possibly be your future (how scary does that sound?). The coolest part is many universities offer work shadowing around the world– that means over your spring break, instead of going home, you could jet off to Hong Kong and see what it’s like to be an analyst at an investment bank, or to New York and see what it’s like to be a professional journalist. The occupations and destinations are limitless.

Who participates?

Generally speaking, the professionals you will shadow will likely be parents of past or present students, alumni, or university donors– so basically, all people who want you to succeed and want you to choose their career path, so expect to be impressed. Universities are generally open to students of all years who want to participate, after all, if you’re a freshman with a clear idea of what you want to do someday, all the better to you.

What’s provided?

Participating in a work shadowing program can be expensive, because the university does not pay for you. You will need to cover all of your expenses (with some exceptions, so check with your university’s financial aid office) such as food, transport, and accommodation. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money with this experience, you should look for shadowing opportunities close to home– even if there isn’t an opportunity listed, you should contact the office in charge of the work shadowing program and see if something could be arranged.

Interested? Go for it: your future awaits!

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