Students often say they can’t find work shadowing opportunities. Well, how about creating one? In this blog post we will cover some ideas of how you can proactively secure some work shadowing opportunities!

Sometimes it’s about WHO you know

I remember I had my first work shadowing experience when I was 16. At school we had a work experience module where we had to spend 2 weeks in any workplace, to observe a person do their job, and gain a sense of what that role was and how to do it. As I was interested to work with children, I wanted to do my work experience at a nursery. My mum happened to know someone who ran a nursery in Camden Town – a phone call later it was all arranged for me to go! (It was a lot of hard work keeping up with energetic toddlers and by the end I concluded that while I still enjoyed working with children, working with such a young age group was not for me!)

Be bold to talk about your ideas with your family, extended family, friends and even family friends. You never know if THEY know someone who may be able to have you in their company for a week long shadowing.

Think outside the picture

Speaking to Careers Consultant Dr Louise Bamford, she mentioned it is highly important to think outside of the box. ‘If you have a part-time job in Sainsbury but would like to gain work shadowing experience in finance – try asking your manager to signpost you to the relevant person at the head office, they are unlikely to say no. Just ask. Every experience will be helpful as evidence to show why you are pursuing a certain career path.’

Try Local

If you are not sure where to start, you could perhaps start looking at what local organisations are around you. Be it the local library, Scouts group, primary school, medical centre, or even supermarket. These are all places where you could approach the person in charge and ask if they could offer you a week or 10 days’ work shadowing opportunity. Even if you are not thinking of entering those professions directly, you could gain a lot about how people in work communicate and behave (work etiquette) by being in a workplace, as well as gain first-hand experience of an industry if you are thinking about pursuing that career.

Next step…

Every experience counts and it’s never too early to start! The careers team are also here to help you if you need further advice and support. Just get in touch to start your first step: careers@westminster.ac.uk or call 02079115184.

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