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(Jupiterimages/(C) 2006 Trevor Lush)
(Jupiterimages/(C) 2006 Trevor Lush)

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Can't decide on a career? Sample many Add to ...

Not sure whether your career is right for you? Here’s an idea: Try them all.

It sounds like something that might make a great reality show. Last summer, Toronto high-school graduate Michael Warshafsky, now a freshman at Queen’s University, organized his own job-shadowing marathon, trying out 60 jobs in 60 days.

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He recommends that a wide-ranging look at potential careers is a good idea before committing to a profession or course of studies.

“At first I thought I was making a joke,” when his family asked what he was going to do for the summer, Mr. Warshafsky recalled in an interview. He had already found, as a student between high school and university, he wasn’t really qualified for many office jobs. “I said if I shadowed a different job every day through the summer, I could get a taste of every possible career.” So he began organizing his job-sharing marathon.

He researched occupations and industries, including jobs he wasn’t even interested in, just to compare and contrast with other jobs. Finding people to shadow turned out to be easier than he expected.

“People are pretty helpful if you reach out to them in a honest way. Even total strangers were happy to make suggestions of people they knew,” he said.

He found that the best way to get a response was to send a personalized e-mail. “A form letter doesn’t work; it helps to really research who you’re trying to reach and show that you know something about them and what they do.”

He spent days shadowing a doctor, a dentist, a rabbi, a mohel performing circumcisions, and a pediatrician who showed him how to analyze urine samples. He sat in with his city councillor on meetings and a judge at the courts.

His project didn’t end up helping him decide on a career, however. It opened his options. “I’m studying sciences and looking at getting into dentistry, but I wouldn’t say I’m set on it for sure. [The summer project]did help me realize I want a career that has fresh challenges every day, one where I can meet new people.”

“From my job shadowing, I became much better on my feet contacting people and promoting myself, online and in person. Over the course of the 60 jobs I got more comfortable and less nervous and realized I could be comfortable in many different industries,” he said.

“The biggest lesson I learned is to dream big dreams. Don’t settle for something that you don’t really want when there are so many possibilities out there.”

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