One of DECA’s guiding principles is to prepare the next generation to be professionally responsible. One of the most beneficial things you can do is organize job-shadowing opportunities for your members. This furthers their real-world experience to help in competitive events and allows them to test the waters of their future careers to see if that path is right for them.
Here’s how you can help your members (and even yourself) shadow professionals working in their dream careers:
1. Research companies and career fields that interest you or your members
Through DECA’s competitive events fall into six career clusters, it may not be the best idea to start reaching out to every single company that has jobs in those clusters. Your first goal should be to survey your target audience and see exactly what they are interested in. For example, I am very passionate about the automotive sector and would love to learn more about their marketing practices, so I would start researching companies and careers that relate to Automotive Services Marketing. After you know exactly where to look, start making a shortlist of companies to contact.
2. Draft a letter asking for a job-shadowing opportunity
With your shortlist of companies complete, it’s time to create an email template to ask for a job shadowing opportunity. Be sure to include why you are emailing them and state it clearly in the subject line. You want to convey that agreeing to participate is a form of investment in the future generation by helping to provide career experience at a young age. Don’t forget to mention that you are DECA members who are passionate about the industry and already possess a level of knowledge from competing in a similarly-themed competitive event. Businesses love to see that you’re coming in with experience and the fact that you’re a member of an organization that already teaches you relevant skills greatly increases your odds of a positive response.
3. Establish a point of contact and reach out to them
I wish reaching out to companies were as simple as emailing the first address you see on their website, but sadly, that is not the case. You may get lucky with a company because some have job shadowing applications listed on their website, but in most cases, you will have to find a specific person within the company who can get your application in the right hands. This can be done by networking with family and friends and attending Chamber of Commerce meetings. Even if your networking efforts aren’t successful in finding the right person to approach, no networking is ever gone to waste.
If you still have nobody to contact, try to find a representative of the company’s email address online, such as an administrative assistant or office manager. Once you’ve found a point of contact, it’s time to email them your letter drafted earlier and hope for the best.
4. Say “thank you”
Regardless of whether they accept your invitation, it’s always a good practice to thank them for their time and consideration. Just because they said no today does not mean you can’t try again in the future. Thanking them creates good relations between you and the company and ends things on good terms, increasing the chance they’ll accept you in the future.
5. Do it all over again
While this seems like a long process (and sometimes can be), remember the huge benefit that members can gain from such opportunities. I can promise you that having job shadow experience is an incredible resume booster that provides you with invaluable experience.
Setting up job shadows for your chapter’s members will provide them with priceless opportunities to increase professional development, gain insight on future career options, increase familiarity with the industry of their competitive event and maximize their momentum!