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How do you shadow a career?

I've been looking on how to shadow a business career. I want to go in either marketing or communications for a major and want to shadow someone to see if I would like the job. I live in Los Angeles so I feel like there'd be a lot of business workers near me but I don't know how to contact them. Does anyone know of any resources? #business #marketing #communications #highschool


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Eliana’s Answer

Great question Kimberly! There are a few different ways you can find a person and a business to shadow. First, you may want to look at connections in your personal network. Are there people you personally know or are maybe a friend of a friend that work in a field you're interested in? If you don't know anyone personally, LinkedIn is the best resource to make new connections and network. If you don't already have a LinkedIn account definitely make one. Then look up companies you are interested in/like what they are doing and look for people who do marketing, communications, PR for the company etc. Send that person a message on LinkedIn letting them know a little about yourself, what you're studying, why you're interested in their company and what they do. Ask them if they would ever be willing to let you shadow them for a few days. If they aren't sure about you being able to shadow them, then you can at least ask them if they could grab a coffee and chat with you and share a little more about their career.

Eliana recommends the following next steps:

Create a LinkedIn account
Find a list of 10 companies you really like with offices in the LA area
Reach out to individuals who work in marketing at these companies and ask about opportunities to shadow

Thank Eliana! I really appreciate your response, do you think that it will be harder for me to shadow someone as I am a high school student (an 11th grader)? Thanks -Kim Kimberly G.

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Tiffany’s Answer

Hi Kimberly. I have a degree in Communications from UCSB. While there, the school offered some resources for internships based on your major. Since you're still in high school, I suggest that you check with your school library, local library, or chamber of commerce in LA to locate a suitable marketing or communications firm that you might want to intern/work at for the summer. You should be able to get a contact number to inquire about their summer opportunities with the operator/receptionist. Good luck!


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Arleen’s Answer

If you haven't yet, you should also speak w/ your guidance counselor -- they are a good resources and may know of internships or shadow opportunities. Many companies have internship programs for students, you might also try sending an email to their "contact us" address stating your interest. Along w/ the very good advice re using LinkedIn, also consider some of the non-profit organizations in your community, such as the Y, the Public Library, the Parks Dept, the local Community Theater company, the Hospital, the local newspaper, the local college radio station, the Red Cross, the American Heart Association -- these organizations typically have people with Marketing or Communication responsibilities -- and might be very open and flexible to letting you shadow them for a day or so, or perhaps becoming an intern. Kimberly, Good Luck!


Thank you so much Arleen! Kimberly G.

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Tabitha’s Answer

LinkedIn is a powerful tool. It's very easy to connect with people there. I've learned that simply asking for help opens more doors than you could imagine. Reach out to someone that you've connected with and simply ask if you can shadow them for a few hours so that you can see what they do and what a typical day looks like. Make sure that you ask them to recommend someone to reach out to if they are not able to allow them to shadow you.

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Lindsay’s Answer

Basically you do everything you just described so well.

Lindsay recommends the following next steps:

Google the businesses you are interested in, call and ask for the proprietor or manager of the organization, and tell them what you just told us.
Be ready to answer specific structural questions such as your availability (which hours of the week and how many total hours you are available).
If you have a specific thing in mind, have that written down so you can articulate it. If they offer something and it's different from what you had in mind and then you turn them down because you didn't tell them the specific thing in the first place that you need, that will be a turn off and a waste of their time, and they will be unlikely to take another call from you. BUT/AND, the best way is to have an idea of how to proceed, share it with them as one option, and then ask them if that option makes sense or if they would have other suggestions.
Be flexible if you can. But if they offer something that makes you uncomfortable, you have the right to politely decline. Remember this is your career...while remembering that they may give you an experience that you never thought of asking for, and you may LOVE that experience.
For safety purposes, make sure your parents have approved of your moving forward on this inquiry process before you proceed (if you are a minor, this is a must). In any case, if you are 25 or under, keep in mind that shadowing could be a one-on-one interaction without witnesses, and there ARE people who will take advantage of that. For women especially, if something puts your radar up, pay attention to it. Making sure you are in a room that has visibility into it, where doors are open, and where you are not alone in a car with your mentor-for-the-day are ways you can learn without risking safety or professional boundary infringement.

Thank you so much Lindsay! Kimberly G.

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