Real-world experience and exploration can help you identify your interests, values, and skills outside of what you learn at VCU. Through shadowing, volunteering, and informational interviewing, you can “try on” the various career pathways to see if you are on the right track.
Shadowing is a vital component to understanding more about a professional field of interest. Shadowing involves following a professional throughout their day, observing the ins-and-outs of the profession as a whole.
Most graduate and professional programs in health sciences require a minimum number of hours of shadowing experience.
After a day of shadowing, ask yourself:
Gaining experience during your undergraduate career serves two important purposes. It allows you to explore and to determine if it is a good career path for you, and it can enhance your credentials for applying to a professional or graduate program. Shadowing can be valuable in any field and some graduate school programs in healthcare require you complete a minimum number of volunteer or shadowing hours to be considering for admission.
Volunteering is a vital component to understand more about a professional field of interest. While shadowing involves simply observing, volunteering allows you to actively perform tasks and make contributions to a workplace or organization.
For healthcare fields, experiences where you have direct patient contact are highly regarded by most admissions representatives. Most pre-health admissions representatives want to see that you give freely of your time to support your community as well.
Most admissions representatives want to see that you give freely of your time to support your community as well.
An informational interview is a professional development tool that you will use over your entire career to grow your professional identity and network by learning more about a profession within an industry. It's a conversation that you direct with questions with a person whom you decide to interview and who is doing work that is interesting to you and where you see yourself working professionally in that field or industry.
The great thing about informational interviews are that they allow you put yourself in to learn from another person’s career path, discover how they gained experience in the field, and learn the strategies and advice they have for someone entering the field today.
Questions about Their Career Story
Questions about Their Preparation for their Career Path
Questions about Their Current Work
Questions about Their Organization
Questions about the Industry
Questions about the Field’s Professional Identity
Are there other people who would be interested in sharing their insight specific to the field and/or industry?
If you receive a contact or two, the person is opening up their professional network. Please respect and acknowledge that they trust you will be professional as you proceed with this network information. Secure the correct spelling of the contact/s, title, company and email.