By Mia Lama, Junior, Industrial Engineering
As a two-time veteran of the UShadow opportunity, I have learned a few tips and tricks to really get the most out of the experience. Here are the crucial things I’ve learned:
Step 1- Make a Great First Impression
When first reaching out to your UShadow Host, you want to share some insight about yourself with them but also demonstrate eagerness and knowledge about their company and position. Add them on LinkedIn and read through their biography. Google search their name and see if they have been featured in any public writings or have co-authored a book. Learn as much as you can from the internet and start developing questions you have for them. In your initial email, show personality and enthusiasm. You want them to be just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them!
Step 2- Get the Details
Some hosts are very busy and won’t be as responsive with their emails. That’s why every single email you send and receive counts. After they reply to your introduction email, start asking questions and getting the details for the day of. You’ll need to be flexible with your availability and may need to miss a class or two. If this is the case, ask the UShadow coordinator to send an email to your professor and he or she will do so. Make sure you ask your host what the proper attire will be, whether you should eat before, where you will park, how long you should expect to be there, if you should bring anything specific (i.e. a government issued I.D., notebook and pen, etc.), and where on the property you should meet them.
Step 3- Successfully Shadowing
Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to learn from your experienced host and gain as much insight into your future career as possible. Soak everything in and ask as many questions as you can think of. Form a good relationship with your host. Be friendly and interactive. Stay engaged and definitely do not be on your phone. Believe it or not, this experience could open the door to your future career if you play your cards right. But most importantly, be yourself and have fun! This is a great experience and opportunity.
Step 4- The Afterword
When sending your thank-you email to your host, be gracious and honest. Mention your favorite parts of the day with them and let them know how you plan on applying what you learned. Also, let them know that you hope to stay in touch with them in the future. If you made a good impression, they may put in a good word for you if you apply to their company in the future. You’ve just expanded your network. Now, keep a good relationship with your host.
Personally, I learned so much from both the hosts that I shadowed. In the fall of 2017, I shadowed an immigration attorney. From him, I learned that I truly enjoyed the idea of working in law but also that immigration law would not be a good fit for me. He and the other employees at the office gave me tips such as whether to go directly into law school after undergrad or to take a gap year to gain experience. In the spring of 2018, I shadowed an engineer at FPL Nextera. From him, I learned all about what it is like being an engineer in an actual field of work. I now know from interacting with the both of them that I would like to study Intellectual Property Law after taking a gap year once graduating with a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering. You could learn so much about yourself and about future career options from shadowing.