By: Tabitha Monahan, M.A., CRC
The last several transition blogs have covered different areas of vocational assessment. Today, I will discuss two further career exploration activities that are incredibly beneficial for students who have an idea of one or several careers they would like to pursue. For these students, an informational interview and/or job shadowing opportunity is an important way for them to gain additional insight that may not be available through typical resources such as O*NET. An informational interview is a conversation a person will have with a person in the field and can give the individual a better sense of the day-to-day aspects and needs for the job. As discussed in the blog I wrote about interest inventories, the workplace environment and preferences play an important role in job satisfaction and success. Having the opportunity to explore the real-life experiences a person has, may allow the individual to gain understanding if this is a career path they think is suited for them. Additionally, the act of requesting and participating in the informational interview can increase networking skills and build confidence as they build job search preparation skills. Questions individuals should consider asking in an informational interview include:
- What is a typical day like for you?
- What do you like most about your work?
- What do you dislike most about your work?
- What led you to becoming a ____?
- What training did you find most beneficial for you?
- What are the most important skills to have to be successful in this job?
- What advice would you give to someone looking to begin a career in your field?
And, of course, it is essential to follow up after the informational interview with a thank you note.
Another incredible strategy that is beneficial for many individuals in search of learning more about a potential career is job shadowing. Job shadowing is when an individual observes a person in their career of interest for a period of time (often a day) to truly view what it is like to work within the desired career. A colleague shared a story years ago about a client interested in becoming a police officer. By having the opportunity to shadow a police officer for part of a detail assignment, the client was able to connect what they had researched around skills and expectations to real-world applications. This was an important exercise for the client to have a firm understanding and was able to make a well-educated choice when deciding to pursue a career as a police officer. And again, job shadowing is an essential tool in finding out if a specific career and company meet the characteristics that will lead to high job satisfaction and enjoyment.
About the Author
Tabitha Monahan, M.A., CRC, is an experienced transition evaluator and vocational counselor. While she is well-versed in supporting a wide range of transition-aged youth, she is especially passionate and knowledgeable in helping clients and their families navigate the complex systems of adult services and benefits as well as medical and mental health systems. She is further adept in working individually with students of all abilities to empower self-advocacy and goal achievement.
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Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-658-9800.