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    The Value of Informational Interviewing, Job Shadowing, and Internships

    If you’re job hunting, should you spend time conducting informational interviews and possibly doing some job shadowing?  Will that generate an income any quicker?  Will you end up with a more satisfying job?

    The answer isn’t a simple yes or no.  Applying for jobs and going through staffing agencies might be the quickest fixes, since at least you know the jobs exist.  When informational interviewing and job shadowing you don’t know whether or when a job will actually become available.

    With today’s blog I’m more concerned with your career, not necessarily an entry-level “for now” job.  When trying to decide what field to enter – or perhaps you’re burned out and desire some sort of change – it’s always best to look before you leap.  I can tell you story after story of those who didn’t… and regretted it.

    Informational interviewing entails gathering insights from the other person relative to their field.  You could ask them how they got interested in their work, what barriers might exist preventing you from stepping into that field, the present and future of their industry, etc.

    In other words, you’ll be doing some real homework while also establishing rapport with that person.  Be sure to ask them who they could recommend you speak with in order to learn more.

    Job shadowing doesn’t happen as often as in years past, largely due to liability issues.  As you might expect, job shadowing provides you with a firsthand look at a day that other person’s life.

    Internships might be a better bet.  You’ll gain hands on experience while also getting a sense for that company’s culture.  At the same time, they’ll see your attitude, work ethic, skills, etc.  A company will often end up hiring its interns.  So it’s a great foot in the door.  But even if they don’t hire you, you’ve gained valuable on the job experience… and that makes you more marketable when job hunting elsewhere.

    Bottom line:  the more homework you can do not only should give you comfort that you’ve chosen a desirable career path, but will also help position you favorably with potential employers.

    So get out, network, conduct informational interviews, and inquire about job shadowing and internships.  You’ll be glad you did.  Good luck!

    Randy Wooden
    Randy Wooden is Director of the Professional Center by Goodwill of Northwest NC. Randy launched The Professional Center by Goodwill of Northwest NC, the first program of its type for any Goodwill®, in 2012. His experiences in career coaching, executive recruiting, business ownership, as a hiring manager and as a job seeker have afforded him the opportunity to view the hiring process from all angles. He developed and provided on-air talent for the Internet’s first daily, live television program targeted toward job hunters. He shares job search tips through a bi-weekly newspaper column; regular appearances on television, radio; and frequent public speaking appearances. Contact information: rwooden@goodwillnwnc.org, (336) 464-0516
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