Congratulations! You received a Spider Shadowing match! Now that you’ve made a connection within the Spider Network, it is time to prep for your big day. Here are a few tips to make the most of your Spider Shadowing experience:
Research, research, research!
While a half- or full-day shadowing experience might seem like small potatoes compared to an extended internship experience, this is your chance to show off what you know and why you’d be a model employee. Before the experience, check out the company website, the organization’s mission/vision/values, and any recent news clippings related to the industry or organization, as well as look up your host on LinkedIn to get a sense of their career path.
Make a great impression
There are a few key steps to making a great first impression. Since your shadowing opportunity is a relatively short time commitment, be sure you are “on” the whole time you are there!
Set the stage by dressing the part. If your host does not specify a company dress code, it is always best to error on the side of dressing more conservatively or professionally. Practice your handshake, so you are ready to meet and greet. And don’t forget to make eye contact!
Use your research to create a list of questions about the organization and your host. While you don’t want to play a game of 20 questions, you do want to be engaged in your visit. Learn as much as possible about the organization, industry, job function, and your host’s career path.
Lastly, know your goals for your experience and stay focused! Stay off your phone, be engaged with those around you, and take notes. Gather as many business cards or contact information as possible. Maintain a friendly, but serious attitude about the experience.
Show your gratitude and stay in touch
After your shadowing experience concludes, be sure to follow up with your host and send a thank you message. Handwritten thank you notes are always attention grabbers. If you think the work environment would make delivery of a handwritten thank you note challenging, email messages work as well. Be sincere, specific, and personal.
If you spoke with many different employees during your visit, follow up with each, if possible. In the weeks and months following your experience, check in with your host. If you see a news article about the organization, do a project for a class on a pertinent topic, or need advice, be sure to reach out and maintain your relationship.
But what if I didn’t like my Shadowing site?
That’s okay! Whether you determined that the organization and/or career path were great or terrible fits, you have narrowed your options and learned a little bit more about your likes and dislikes! Crossing things off your list can be just as helpful as adding ideas. Spend a few minutes reflecting on why the experience did not resonate with you so you know what to look for or avoid in other work environments. And, as always, stay tuned to SpiderConnect for other opportunities to engage with the Spider Network.
Written By: Kirsten Petrocelli, ’14, Project Manager, Office of Alumni & Career Services