ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Job Shadows are an Important Experience For Teens

Updated on May 10, 2018
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.


A job shadow experience is a very important step for teens. Job shadows help to have experiences in certain career fields to try careers out for a day and see if it's the right fit before investing money into four years of college to end up with a degree in a field that is disagreeable.

You may be wondering what a job shadow is exactly? The most common definition is a one-day "shadow" of a professional that is in a career a teen is thinking about choosing. Typically job shadows do not include any hands-on experience, but just observing the professional as they go about their daily work. Often job shadows can be arranged by the teen's guidance counselor, or by approaching the Career Center Director at a high school. Job shadows work out best if the teen already knows someone they would like to shadow. If not, the Career Center Director has community connections so should be able to find a suitable professional to connect a student to. Often students can get an excused absence from school, with parent's permission, to complete a one-day job shadow experience.

A true life experience will be demonstrated by an experience of a colleague of mine. In high school, my friend Jane ( not her real name) had thought she wanted to be a dental hygienist. In the second semester of her senior year in high school, she approached the Career Center Director at her school and asked to have a job shadow at a dentist's office. The assigned day arrived, and she observed the hygienist placing her fingers in the mouths of patients all day long, cleaning their teeth and sometimes causing them pain unintentionally as she worked. My friend left that experience knowing she could not spend every day with her hands in other people's mouths because in actuality she is a "germaphobe," and couldn't stand the thought of working with all those germs. Her next step was to job shadow with her aunt who was a nutritionist. She arrived at the hospital where her aunt worked one morning and was enjoying watching her aunt speak with various clients and patients regarding healthy eating habits. At one point during the day, they went into a back room and began mixing different liquids and putting them in an IV bag. They approached a patient's room, and Jane observed her aunt speaking with the patient and pulling out a long needle to insert into the IV bag so the patient could get the liquid nutrition he needed that day. Jane is deathly afraid of needles and knew right then and there that the job of nutritionist was not for her! After some time taking college classes, she majored in Psychology, and later went for her Master's Degree in School Counseling. Today she enjoys her job as a guidance counselor at a very prestigious high school. It was important for Jane to have the job shadow experiences though to sift through various careers to rule out ones that were not a good fit for her.

In my time running the career center at my local high school, I was able to set job shadows up for students in a variety of fields. The local police department accepted two boys for job shadows, and because they were already 18, they were able to ride along in a police car and experience an actual day on the job. Both boys decided to enter the field of criminal justice. Another student who was only 17 at the time, was able to job shadow in the state police barracks, sat in on roll call and a briefing of the day. He also stayed with the dispatcher for some time and was able to hear a variety of calls that came in for police help. He decided to go with his second choice of auto mechanic and is happy in that field today. A female student wanted to be a teacher, and job shadowed a teacher from her old middle school. After that experience, she decided to work with younger children and is in college today majoring in early childhood education.

For students who would like to set up their own job shadow experiences, summer is a perfect time to do so as they will not have to miss time from school. If they want to experience a job but don't know anyone, in particular, that does that job, contacting the local Chamber of Commerce, or Rotary Club is a good place to start. These organizations have connections with professionals in many varieties of occupations and can help connect teens to people who would be more than happy to share their expertise with a teenager in their community.

Job shadows are an important step for teens who would like to experience a career before investing money in a career path that may or may not be a good fit for them.

Job Shadow Poll

Did You Have a Job Shadow Experience as a Teen?

See results

© 2012 Karen Hellier


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      This is a great idea for those teens who are trying to define a career choice. I think this should be a standard high school program for early grades. Enjoyed the read!

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for the compliment billybuc. Interesting that you've never heard that term before. Maybe it's just a new England term? It differs from an internship because it lasts only one day. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      8 years ago from Georgia


      I agree. It can be so helpful for teens who aren't sure what they want to do. Or for the ones who think they know what they want to do, but if they knew what the job consists of they would quickly change their minds. A small high school in my area has a mandatory requirement that all students do a job shadow in their junior year. Of course it's a very small school with only 800 students, but I am sure it makes a positive difference for those 200 students in the junior year.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's weird, Karen, but I have never heard of that term before. I have had shadows but never knew it was referred as such. Thanks for the education and a great hub!

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 

      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      I think this is great and frankly should be a requirement. Some of my students have done job shadows, and they really express that it has made a difference in their decision making process. When I was teaching in London about ten years ago, our students there were required to do an internship over five weeks or so. We need more of this in our system.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)