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How can I find somewhere to shadow a person in the engineering field?

#career #engineering #shadowing

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Ben’s Answer

This is a great question and a great strategy when someone is seeking to learn more about a career and to really learn what a typical day is like for someone in the field that your interested in possibly joining. Many people shadow with other departments in my company when they are thinking about transitioning to another role. It was mentioned in one of the replies that most companies have very strict security policies that would prevent your shadowing if your not already an employee of the company. I would concur with that.

However, I still believe you have some options. Every school should have an engineering department. Therefore I would reach out to the Engineering department and pursue your shadow opportunity that way. If the school also has strict security policies and doesn't permit that type of shadowing, I would counter with an offer and ask if there is anyone you can speak to in the department just to ask questions about the role. You can learn a tremendous amount even in a 1 on 1 zoom meeting. Just prepared with questions.

If you don't know how to go about making contact with that group or may be a little uncomfortable doing it yourself, I would suggest reaching our to a guidance\career counselor at your school and asking for assistance. I'm sure they would be more than willing to assist.

One other option is to volunteer yourself! Your local church, library or local non profit organizations may actually need some help and will not only allow you to shadow, but to get real hands on experience! I know students who have volunteered to setup their church website or setup their network linking computers.

I'm sure you will find the opportunity. Just don't be afraid to keep knocking on doors. It never hurts to ask.
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Eric’s Answer

Being able to shadow someone in a career field that you may be interested in is an excellent way to get a real feel for what is involved. There are a lot of different types of engineering fields and and the number of different careers within each of those fields is exponential. Make sure you explore multiple options until you find one that you enjoy. Start making phone calls or sending letters to different companies. Some might not be receptive to shadowing due to sensitive data and workplace regulations, but may offer other options including internships that can give you more hands on experience. Smaller, independent companies may be a little more willing to having someone shadow them and that would be a great start.
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Michelle’s Answer

This is a great question! I have found that high school counselors often have connections and often agreements with local companies to provide job shadowing opportunities for students. Often when a student is job shadowing a company can become impressed and internships can result. There are usually some rules for students, though. Grades can be the top of the requirements list. Students may need to be in good standing in school to earn these opportunities so be sure to have any outstanding assignments taken care of 🙂.
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Bob’s Answer

The answer to this question depends on the type of engineering you want to do. Is it civil, software, mechanical, or something else? There might be one type of engineering that easier to observe than another. For example, in civil engineering, you can find CAL TRANS and watch them work outside, then approach them asking for a contact number of someone else you may want to work with.
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Kim’s Answer

I would look towards the smaller companies, more than the larger ones. What type of engineering are you interested in? You can try to reach out to them via social media, write a letter, find them working a booth at the county fair, attend a trade fair, etc. Having an actual name of a person you are trying to reach will help, or in person contact.

Above all, try to be knowledgeable about the company before you speak with them! Know what projects they have worked on, and the scope of their work. You don't have to memorize the names of top mgt, you just want to come across as someone who knows where they are going!

Hope that helps - good luck!
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John’s Answer

Contact Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development group and see if they can connect you to some of their member companies.
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Shelby’s Answer

As the previous answer said, it may not be possible. But you can definitely try to reach out to any companies in your area and see if they would be open to letting you shadow. You could also try to find some sort of internship, or even try to interview an engineer at a company and try to get some of your questions answered that way. Good luck!
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Eric’s Answer

Alondra, depending on the engineering field, there may be opportunities to go beyond shadowing and get a paid internship position. If you are skilled in a particular task that engineering companies need then you should have no problem getting an internship, whether temporary or part-time, since most engineering firms are back-logged and understaffed in the current market conditions. Most engineering firms rely on drafters to present the engineering designs so that the designs can be constructed or manufactured. If you are able to provide any level of drafting, most engineering firms would jump at having a prospective engineer to do such a task. There may be other simple engineering tasks that you could do if you have learned any of the engineering programs in your field or are skilled in spreadsheets or software development. If you are able to join the local professional engineering society I suggest you attend their next meeting and ask some of the engineers what engineering and non-engineering needs that the firms in your area have. It just might be that you already have the skills they need or could take a class or two in the next year that would position you to get an internship while still in school.
All the best,
Eric
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Tyler’s Answer

Use your network on people you know. If you know of a family friend or neighbor that is in the field you want to potentially pursue, then talk to them and see if they can give you some insight. Another great option is a high school guidance counselor or college advisor.
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Mickael’s Answer

Hi Alondra,

I am not sure if that is even possible. Many engineering companies have strict policies about who can enter their sites, access their data and so on. I have to admit I've never seen any shadowing requests in my entire career so far.
There are couple things I would try:
- find companies that propose internship programs in the field you are interested in.
- contact the companies and directly ask them if they accept shadowing an engineer.
Sorry for not being able to help you more.
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